We often get asked 'Do Graphic Designers need amazing Drawing skills? In short, the answer is NO. You can still become a successful Graphic Designer and not be good at drawing.

In this post, we will cover:

  • What is Graphic Design
  • Design rules to follow
  • Design Softwares to Master
  • The benefits of basic sketches 
  • Tools to help you to draw

Listen along to our Podcast or continue reading to
learn more about the skills you will need to
become a graphic designer

What is graphic design?

A Graphic designer's job is to create engaging
compositions to either sell a product, service or promote
a message. 

Graphic Designers do not need to draw but instead need to create appealing designs using assets such as images, typography, illustrations.

In contrast, an Illustrator will focus on drawing to communicate a message.

Key Terms : Composition (also referred to as Layout, Artwork, Design) means the placement or arrangement of visual elements on a blank page.

Core Skills for a Graphic Designer

1.Basic sketching skills

As a Graphic Designer, you must be able to think creatively, and one of the best ways to improve your creativity is through sketching. Sketches are rough drawing used by designers for planning and productivity.  The drawings do not need to be perfect but instead think of a visual way to get ideas down on paper.

Here are some examples to explain this further!

As the above example shows, you can create rough thumbnail style sketches to indicate the placement of images, type or other elements. You can then share your sketches with your team/boss to get their feedback before moving to the actual design.

This method will help you to have the right direction and, improve productivity and even avoid any creative block.

When it comes to creating logos, most designers will start with 10-20 (or even 30) very rough sketches. The client may only like 3, so instead of designing so many variations in Adobe Illustrator, you can focus on developing the three chosen ideas before producing the final one.

The sketching process will add clarity, save time and improves productivity in every project.

Bonus: Drawing skills Apps

Although many graphic designers don't draw, with so many drawing apps now readily available, many have started to explore creating digital illustrations. 

Do you want to start drawing? I have listed a few useful tutorials below to get you started in drawing, focusing on digital illustrations. 

2. Learn the Basic Design Theory!

To become a successful graphic designer, you need to learn the principles of design and have a good understanding of design theory. The more you design, the better you will come to understand them.

7 Key Design Principle

  1. ScaleDraws attention to design elements, creates emphasis.
  2. HierarchyHelps users to navigate your design, signals the importance of different elements.
  3. ContrastLight vs Dark, Thick vs Thin, helps make design elements' pop.'
  4. DirectionCreate a path and direct viewer in 'Z' 'L' and 'Y' shapes.
  5. Negative SpaceLeave blank space between elements to give it some breathing space.
  6. Repetition: Helps to tie elements together within a composition and adds consistency 
  7. Balance: Proportions within a design that distributes elements equally. Symmetry is a perfect balance, while asymmetry creates tension.

Confused where to start?

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3.Master the Design Application

Finally, it would help if you Mastered Design applications.  Top 3 software to Master as a designer are:

  • Adobe Photoshop - Ideal for Photo Editing 
  • Adobe Illustrator - Ideal for Vector illustration 
  • Adobe InDesign - Ideal for layout and page design 

Learning these applications will help you to work on projects such as Logo and Branding, Editorial (magazine, books) Advertising, Web Design, and so much more!

Learning to Draw will undoubtedly be an advantage to your career, the more skills you have as a designer; the more opportunities will open up. Although you do not need to be great at drawing, it is advisable to have at least simple sketching skills, which will improve your creativity and productivity.


We will highlight six key steps to help you define your illustration style.

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About the author 

Shumi Perhiniak

Shumi is a self-taught graphic designer, in 2012 she took one-year sabbatical career break, where she devoted her time studying Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In just after 6 months she started freelancing and within a year become a Certified Photoshop Expert. Over the years she worked both in-house and in agency roles as a retoucher, artworker and moved on from junior to senior design roles.

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