I'm not a graphite artist -- not by any means. I lay down pencil sketches from time-to-time, but my main goal when putting down a sketch is putting down something that isn't going to smear all over the damn page.
These little buggers are great for graphite drawings -- for shading and intentionally smudging, but when you're doing watercolour or ink... They make you want to scream. Or maybe that's just me. And yes, I've put my hand down on a piece of paper to avoid The Smear!
These babies are in the back of my art supply. With ink and watercolour, I found it's incredibly too difficult and I spend way too much time cleaning and tidying up the paper -- which can, even if you're being gentle, mess with the grain of cold press watercolour paper.
Every artist finds what works for them. This is just what works for me. And no, it's not necessarily costly -- though, art is often one of those things that you get what you pay for and if you want your artwork to last you'll invest in decent supplies down the road. A lot of your basic supplies are relatively inexpensive. (I think the eraser caps I use are like 98¢ at Walmart -- I love them! They're better than most of the higher priced kneaded erasers I've tried).
What works for me is this setup:
A Make-up Brush -- Sweep, don't brush away any debris on the page with your hand.
Tomobow Mono Zero Eraser -- For eyes, nostrils, hair, creating any erased tiny texture.
Faber-Castell Pencil Eraser -- Sharp, pointy eraser... I dig that shit. This eraser and the Tomobow can go places others can't. Oooooh yeahhh.
Pentel Hi-Polymer Caps -- Cleanest and as soft as frickin' angel wings, yo. It treats your paper right. Probably brings flowers to dates.
Now, the pencils I use, because I'm really picky...
I use two types. Prismacolor Col•Erase and Uni Kuru Toga (which I'll just link a video to at the bottom because it explains way better than I can).
The Col•Erase pencils I got came in a box with a bunch of different colors. They're pretty much erasable colored pencils by Prismacolor, but they're not hella expensive. They look awesome in the background of watercolor paintings or ink paintings for an added splash of color, but one of the things I really loved is they don't smear anywhere nearly as badly as regular pencil. I have found I can smear them on some mixed media papers, but for the most part they're clean and even when they do smear it just adds to the painting instead of making it look dirty.
Now, the Kuru Toga is a must have. It's just brilliant in its design and for clean, consistent lines -- because as you'll see in the video, the lead rotates while you draw or write to maintain an even point.
Enjoy! (And no, I haven't been asked to review any of this... I really am this geeky!).