When I use the Eraser Tool (Shift+E) in Illustrator, there is a strange and undesired effect. It seems to clean up fine details on the effected layer, sometimes removing small shapes. For example, here are some small shapes (these are fine details, note the zoom is at 1600%).

Some shapes before eraser

Now I click the eraser on the top-rightmost white shape, with a brush size just large enough to cover it: Shapes after eraser All but the biggest shape is gone!

Why is this happening and what can I do to prevent it?

  • 1
    I don't really use the eraser tool that much as if I want to delete something that precisely, I use the direct selection tool to select the necessary points and delete that way. That being said, double check your settings and confirm that the tool is sized correctly (i.e. not too large). The other thing to note is that Illustrator's preview is just that - a preview. It may not be as accurate as you think. Try zooming out and then back in to confirm that you did indeed only erase the artwork you wanted.
    – bemdesign
    Jun 7, 2015 at 15:41
  • @bemdesign My screenshot doesn't show the cursor but I'm quite certain eraser is sized correctly. That's not what's going on here. A single click of the eraser seems to make every shape smaller than some threshold instantly disappear.
    – Robert
    Jun 7, 2015 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


I can't explain why it happens but I found a work-around: If I select the whole layer and scale it up to 3-4x its initial size, I can erase without bits disappearing. Then I scale it back down when I'm done.

My guess is that Illustrator is assuming any shape below some arbitrary threshold is junk and removing it as part of the cleanup after the eraser is used. By increasing the size of everything we sidestep that filter.

  • Interesting. Maybe file a bug report with Adobe?
    – bemdesign
    Jun 7, 2015 at 23:58

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