How to erase watercolor?

One of the main reasons why many people hesitate to work with watercolors is that it isn’t so easy to correct mistakes.

In fact, some believe that once the layer of paint has dried, you can’t go back.

This isn’t exactly true…

In this post, you’ll learn how to erase watercolors using different methods.

7 Ways to erase watercolor


The easiest and most common way to erase watercolor is by lifting. Lifting refers to picking up the watercolor pigment using a paper towel or brush. 

To erase watercolor by lifting, start by re-wetting the areas you want to erase using a clean, wet brush.

Wait for a few seconds then dab the wet areas with a paper towel or a damp brush.

The paint will lift off from the painting and transfer to the paper towel.

This method will also cause the least damage to your paper.

Erasing watercolor with the lifting technique

However, some pigments are more difficult to lift. These pigments are called staining pigments.

Magic eraser (watercolor sponge eraser)

A magic eraser is a cleaning tool made from melamine foam that can be used to clean stains and dirt from a variety of surfaces! They can even remove permanent marker stains.

Magic erasers are also effective when it comes to erasing watercolor mistakes.

To use a magic eraser, all you need to do is dampen the sponge with a little water and gently rub the areas you wish to erase.

When you are finished, simply rinse it off with clean water and it’s ready to use again.

Make sure to test it out on a separate piece of paper as it could damage your painting.

Also, try not to go back and forth too many times or you’ll definitely scrub the paper.

Spray bottle

Using a spray bottle filled with clean water to lift spots is a great way of erasing watercolor and creating softened edges! It can also be used as a painting technique.

Start by spraying the dried painting with your spray bottle, then with a paper towel or cloth, lift the pigment off the paper. This will result in light spots.


If you’re painting a subject that requires rough texture then using sandpaper can be a good option.

It’s best to use sandpaper with a finer grit as you don’t want to damage the paper too much.

Fold the sandpaper piece in half then using the edge, gently scratch the areas you want to erase. Blow away the sanded paper and there you have it!

Sanded eraser

If the sand paper is too rough, you can always use a sanded eraser as an alternative.

A sanded eraser is similar to a normal eraser however has some grit to create scratch marks. This can be a useful tool if you manage not to over use it and wear away the paper.


Using a knife or sharp tool, you can scratch away areas of the painting. What’s great about this method is you have more control and can create finer details. This can be useful when adding highlights to your painting.

Gouache or oil pastel

Another way to erase watercolor is by painting over using white gouache or oil pastel. The only issue with this method is that once you use oil pastel, you won’t be able to paint another layer on top. Gouache is an opaque medium, so painting another transparent layer of watercolor on top will be difficult. However, using gouache and oil pastel is excellent for adding highlights or white areas on a dried layer of paint.

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2 thoughts on “How to erase watercolor?”

  1. I love your detailed yet simple instructions. Thank you for providing them free. As a beginning watercolor painter I have learned a great deal from you already. Thanks


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