How to Erase in Illustrator

In this walkthrough, we've shared how to erase in Illustrator, so you can quickly remove sections of a project while leaving other elements intact. Illustrator's rich customization features allow you to set the Eraser tool's shape, diameter, and much more. Furthermore, if you're drawing with a tablet, the software will detect the angle and pressure being used with your stylus, which gives you even more control over the eraser. 

How to Erase in Illustrator
First, load an Illustrator project and select the Eraser tool in the main Tools panel (or press Shift+E). Click and drag on the artboard to start erasing areas of your image. If you erase an object and split it into multiple sections, it will separate the objects so they can be moved and edited independently. 

For more control over your Eraser options, go back to the Tools panel and double-click on the Eraser tool icon. This will bring up a dialog box with settings for Angle, Roundness, and Diameter. There's a handy visual aid that shows exactly what the tweaks will do to your eraser, as well as a "Reset" button that will change everything back to its default setting. 

The Eraser tool can transform almost any object in your project, except for raster images, text, symbols, and graphs. Here's how to get around it:

  • Erasing Images: Using the Brush tool, draw over the image area that you want to erase. Then, select your image and the brush shape, and go to the Transparency palette. Click on "Make Mask" to cut the brush shape out of your image.  
  • Erasing Text: Choose "Type" > "Create Outlines" from the top menu to convert your text into an outline, and then use the Eraser tool. You won't be able to change the text content after doing this, because it will no longer have Type attributes. 
  • Erasing Symbols: Go to the Symbols panel and click on the "Break Link to Symbol" button (it looks like a broken chain). Then, edit with the Eraser. 
  • Erasing Graphs: Ungroup the graph objects first, and then use the Eraser tool.

Tips for Using the Eraser

  • If you only want to erase one section of the artboard, but want to leave all other objects intact, just click on the desired object with the Selection tool. Then, go back to the Eraser tool and start erasing the object. When you release the mouse, any edits made outside of the object's boundaries will not be applied. 
  • To confine your Eraser tool to a perfectly vertical, horizontal, or 45-degree line, hold the Shift key while clicking and dragging the mouse in that direction. 
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