There is absolutely no need to ever draw a realistic life-like image in the world of graphic design so please don’t worry.

If you are considering a graphic design career, then the first question that may come to your mind is, do graphic designers need to know how to draw?

While it never hurts to be able to convey your ideas through your own drawings, you do not need to have amazing drawing skills to become a graphic designer.

As a designer with over 10 years of experience, I can honestly say that I have never had to go beyond drawing geometric shapes and simple sketches for any of my client projects.

In this article, I'll go over what graphic design is, the importance of drawing skills for graphic designers, and what skills a graphic designer actually needs.

We'll also cover and discuss things like:

  • The difference between a graphic designer and an illustrator.
  • Are graphic designs drawn by hand?
  • 5 exercises to improve your drawing skills.
What actually is graphic design?
What actually is graphic design?

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the process of creating visual content to communicate messages. Graphic designers use a combination of typography, color, and imagery to craft beautiful designs.

Typical uses of graphic design include branding, logos, packaging, advertising, and web development. Graphic designers often work closely with art directors, copywriters, and other creatives to create cohesive designs that capture the attention of the target audience.

With the help of graphic design, businesses can amplify their brand messages in a visually appealing way that ultimately can grow the business.

Is it important to draw?
Is it important to draw?

The Importance of Drawing Skills for Graphic Designers

Many people believe that since graphic designers work visually, that drawing is one of the required skills to be successful. This is simply not the case. Being able to draw is more of a nice to have than it is actually a requirement. In no way will a lack of drawing hinder you as a graphic designer.

In fact, it is better to work with an illustrator to handle any art or illustration as the graphic designer should focus on the actual design and composition of the page. This allows the designer to make design decisions on other elements of the project such as typography and color palette.

If you look at any graphic design job listing page within the industry, you will notice that drawing will be nowhere to be found. This is because companies prefer designers to possess other skills such as mastery of specific software like Adobe Photoshop, or using their creativity to design a unique idea.

What Skills Do Graphic Designers Actually Need?

Now, you can let out that big sigh of relief knowing that a graphic designer doesn't need the ability to draw to create good design work and be successful in this career. Let's talk about some other skills that will actually make you stand out in a design job or with clients.

1. Great Communication

Great communication is something I talk about a lot as an important skill to have in the design industry, especially when working with clients. Graphic designers need to be able to convey their ideas clearly and efficiently in order to create effective designs.

Great communication not only comes in handy when working with clients but also when working with other members of a design team, such as copywriters and web developers. Good communication skills are essential for graphic designers to be able to thrive in their careers.

Knowing design principles are important for success.
Knowing design principles are important for success.

2. Design Principles

There are 7 principles of design that serve as the basics for developing effective designs. Those include emphasis, balance and alignment, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space. Using your creativity to control these elements of design as well as break them will bring you much more success than the ability to draw.

3. Technical Expertise

In today's digital world, there are a number of design software that allow designers to create stunning visuals without having to rely on drawing with pen and paper. In fact, many of the most successful graphic designers are those who have a strong understanding of how to use these programs effectively. Softwares like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are a big part of the job and are used daily by designers.

4. Time Management

Managing your time is a skill that many can overlook in the creative industry. As a graphic designer, you can be responsible for the coordination of design elements and creative assets like an illustration. Being able to manage your time effectively to reach a project deadline and ensure all assets approved before will lead to a success creative career.

Simple sketching like this will be more than enough as a designer.
Simple sketching like this will be more than enough as a designer.

5. Simple Sketching

While drawing is not required as a graphic designer, being able to sketch very simple illustrations of your ideas can get the job done. Not only will simple sketches help to drive your idea across, they can also help when developing more detailed art or an illustration when working with an illustrator.

What is the Difference Between a Graphic Designer and Illustrator?

Graphic designers and illustrators are both artists who use visual images to communicate a message, but they have different areas of expertise. Graphic designers work on creating materials that are functional and visually appealing, such as a logo, brand identity, website, and packaging.

In contrast, illustrators work on creating visual art for books, magazines, packaging, and websites. They may also work on more specific or commissioned artwork, such as portraits, murals, or fine art.

An example of a wall mural illustration.
An example of a wall mural illustration.

While graphic designers often use computer software to create their design elements, illustrators may use a variety of traditional media, such as pen and ink or watercolor for their illustrations. As a result of their different training and experience, graphic designers and illustrators often have different skill sets and ways of approaching projects.

Are Graphic Designs Drawn by Hand?

While some graphic designers prefer to work with pen and paper, others have embraced digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator which are included with the Adobe Creative Suite.

Some designs can be drawn by hand but not all are needed.
Some designs can be drawn by hand but not all are needed.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards using more hand-drawn elements in graphic design, as digital tools can sometimes create sterile-looking results. However, each graphic designer has their own preferences, and there is no right or wrong way to create a graphic design.

Ultimately, the goal is to produce an effective and visually appealing design that communicates the desired message to the audience.

Drawing exercises can help improve your skills.
Drawing exercises can help improve your skills.

Exercises to Improve Your Drawing Skills

The ability to draw is not something you are born with and can be learned by anyone. If you are looking for ways to improve or learn, try out these 5 exercises today.

  1. Drawing With Your Opposite Hand
  2. 1 Line Drawing
  3. Drawing Upside Down
  4. Negative Space Drawing
  5. Blind Contour Drawing


If you are thinking about becoming a graphic designer and are concerned about not being able to draw, then fear not. You definitely do not need to know how to draw to be a good graphic designer.

Like many other skillsets, graphic design can be learned through a course or practicing over time. The important thing to keep in mind is as long as you have the willingness to learn you can be a successful graphic designer.

As always, if you have any questions you can message me on TikTok or Instagram and if you are looking to improve your portfolio then consider signing up for a free 1-on-1 zoom portfolio review.

What do you think? Do you need to know how to draw to be a good graphic designer?