View Full Version : Removing pencil lead from an acrylic painting

05-02-2009, 02:47 PM
I have been painting with golden acrylics for years. Sometimes I sketch in a drawing over a background acrylic wash, but if I make a mistake the lead is very difficult to erase. I have tried using a sticky tack eraser and rubbing with a wet towel. Both methods sort of works, but I have never been able to get rid of all the pencil markings and its kinda driving me nuts. Maybe white vinegar would do the trick?? Anyone have any ideas or experiences with this sort of thing?

05-02-2009, 03:06 PM
HELLO and welcome to the Our little corner of Wet canvas.
I dont know that answer sorry, I do use pencil with my sketches but Always end up painting over it. never had a problem with it.
Maybe some of the other experts can pop in and help you there.
Hope to see some of your Artwork!!

05-02-2009, 03:16 PM
In this case painting over is not an option because the painting is very large and the background is all ready set. Thanks for the reply though Kathie.

05-02-2009, 05:17 PM
Welcome fermata! I don't have an answer either, but this should keep it at the top where one of the more experienced painters should have some advice. I have the same problem with portraits, if I use a pencil to remark where I should have put something, unless the paint over it is almost black, it seems to float up and make things alot darker than I want. I think I am going to start sketching in water color pencil and see if that helps.

Will be waiting to see what others say...white vinegar sounds interesting...but not sure how it would interact with acrylics?

05-02-2009, 05:35 PM
I've always sealed the pencil lines (well I use graphite sketch pencil...but I guess its the same thing) with gloss medium and then painted over.

I have erased with a regular "pink eraser"...on both blank canvas and painted surface...as long not too much pressure was used when sketching.

If you are trying to remove lightly applied graphite from the surface of an acrylic painting, you might try gently washing with a mild soap (like baby shampoo) and water...using a cotton swab...then rinse well.

If too much pressure was used with the pencil, I'm afraid it might have "dented" the surface of your paint.....in that case, I dunno. :rolleyes:

But in any case, I'm "bumping" it too the top for someone more knowledgeable than myself. :D

05-02-2009, 05:37 PM
Hi fermata. Welcome to Acrylics @ W/C.
I have no answer for this time, but the next time you are in an art store, pick up some various colours of Water Colour Pencils.
I use them on my canvas to transfer a design.
You can paint over them with Acrylics and they meld with what you are painting once dampened, leaving no marks.
Hope this helps.

05-02-2009, 07:47 PM
Thank you everyone for posting! I know i will get to the bottom of this soon enough.

now that i have done a couple of posts, i would like to share a link to my website,

05-02-2009, 08:03 PM
There are several folks who apply a thinned gesso layer over the pencil marks before they go into the actual painting. Acts like an isolation layer, also some clear medium over the pencil may be of some merit as well.

05-03-2009, 06:32 AM
Pencil lines can be hard to get rid of so I use water colour pencils or even pastel pencils. The pastels mix quite well with the paint and unwanted lines can be wiped off with a damp cloth.

05-03-2009, 08:13 AM
I knew that I would not be the only one to have found that water colour pencils are the answer to the problem of graphite residue. The use of a water colour pencil means that errors can be totally removed with a damp cloth without leaving a residual mess. Furthermore if the inital sketch is done with a light hand then the water colour pigment will be absorbed into the paint as it is applied. If you know what the overall colour scheme of the painting is going to be then you can select a pencil colour that will blend in with the scheme. A good neutral colour is Van Dyke brown.

05-03-2009, 01:24 PM
hmmm...good stuff. My only concern is when drawing over a painted background. Im curious if the watercolor pencil will find purchase on a thick layer of acrylic. It will be interesting to see...

oh and if anyone else has a good/new solution to removing graphite, please share!

05-03-2009, 02:44 PM
I've never sketched over a painted background. I don't know if this helps, but what I do is sketch first then take a spray can of fixative and cover the canvas with that. It will seal the graphite and act like a shield so that it doesn't blead through when paint is applied on top.

sketch, fixative and let that dry. apply acrylic wash and let that dry.

05-03-2009, 05:13 PM
I don't know if water color pencil will show up on a painted surface, it's worth a try. However, a pastel pencil will definitely work and can be wiped off easily if changes are needed.

05-04-2009, 04:58 AM
I have only recently come to use a water colour pencil for the initial sketch. I tend to paint with fairly thin layers and my experience so far is that the WC pencil will draw quite happily over a thin layer of paint on canvas. What it will do over a thick layer remains to be seen!

05-04-2009, 12:51 PM
I use a white eraser.

05-04-2009, 11:05 PM
i make it part of the painting hee hee

chammi kaiser
05-05-2009, 05:08 AM
I never use graphite. Tried in the beginning but ended up with grubby marks. I always use a watercolour pencil.

05-05-2009, 04:46 PM
hmmm...good stuff. My only concern is when drawing over a painted background. Im curious if the watercolor pencil will find purchase on a thick layer of acrylic. It will be interesting to see...

oh and if anyone else has a good/new solution to removing graphite, please share! If you use a softer pencil, it will be easier to remove. Soft vine charcoal or a soft charcoal pencil will wipe right off. These work well over dried acrylics.

Dilute watercolor, applied with a brush is another option.

Some disappearing inks would allow for darker lines that would still disappear. Very fugitive colors would also work, though you might have to do a little research to be sure there wouldn't be any residues of (faded) color.

05-06-2009, 02:05 AM
A good art store that caters to architects should have a white eraser. I use Helix Professional Eraser #25734 with great results. Really excellent with 1000H vellum so I would imagine it will not hurt your acrylic. Give it a try and let me know. There is something romantic about seeing some of those lines. Like being part of the construction.