Is Graphic Design Drawing the Same as Graphic Design?

When lay people think of graphic design, they likely imagine graphic design drawing. But is there a difference between the two, and what is it? We’ll explain!

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

Table of Contents

Can you be a graphic designer if you can’t draw? Definitely. But whaot’s the importance of graphic design drawing, and how is it used in different projects? Read on to find out!

When a cousin of mine graduated from design school, many family members flooded her with what they thought were appropriate gifts: fancy sketchbooks, paints, and colored pencils. Turns out some money for a high-quality graphic design drawing tablet would have been much better!

This cousin happens to be a graphic designer whose work does include digital drawing. However, does graphic design involve drawing as a rule? Let’s discover.

What is graphic design?

Can you be a graphic designer if you can’t draw? Of course! Remember that graphic design comes in many shapes and forms: from the letters on your keyboard to the print on your t-shirt.

Not all types of graphic design require drawing skills. With modern design software, sometimes design is a combination of geometric elements or typography that doesn’t require special skills or equipment, such as a graphic design drawing tablet.

So, what is graphic design? According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), design is defined as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.”

You can already see how this definition transcends a single skill, such as drawing. To put it in slightly more practical terms, graphic design conveys a specific message to a particular audience through visual means. This is also the key difference between graphic design and art. Whereas the latter doesn’t necessarily have to serve a specific purpose, graphic design always has a purpose (or use) attached to it.

In practice, that can mean ads (with or without words), logos and brand design, posters, flyers, type design, websites, and many more applications.

What is graphic design drawing?

Let’s circle back to that question from the beginning: can you be a graphic designer if you can’t draw? Absolutely. Many designers will purchase or get free illustrations online and proceed to create layouts, color palettes, typography, and everything else that makes a successful piece of design.

You’ve probably heard of graphic design drawing referred to as illustration. While the two are pretty similar, drawing in design doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-fledged illustration. Simple elements, such as lines or shapes, are sometimes drawn by hand.

When it comes to graphic design, drawing it’s essentially the same thing as regular drawing. The difference is that it’s usually done with a different tool than pen and paper (although many designers use these for initial sketching). There are 2 ways to create graphic design drawing:

  1. In a design program like Adobe Illustrator: designers use, for example, the pen tool, and “draw” digitally using their mouse.
  2. With a graphic design drawing tablet: this is a special device that allows designers to “draw” on it with a special pen and have the drawing immediately transferred into a digital format.

Drawing in graphic design: where is it used?

Does graphic design involve drawing? Not necessarily. However, graphic design drawing is an important part of design in generaL, and a valuable skill for different types of design projects.

Let’s see some examples of graphic design drawing being used in design.


These days there are many ways to get a professional logo design, including online logo generators using AI.

However, high-quality hand-drawn designs are very rare in these cases. Let’s take a look at an example from our own portfolio of work. The designer created this custom hand-drawn logo. Even though the drawing is quite simple and subtle, you can immediately see the difference between that and a template created with simple geometric shapes.


By Iliyana Kostova via Behance

Illustrations are a terrific way to enhance ordinary packaging and make it more appealing and memorable.


People’s attention span is notoriously short these days. Moreover, we see an average of 4,000-10,000 ads daily. So, if you want to make an impression and get people to look at your ads, let alone click on them, you need something custom.

Here’s another example from our portfolio. The drawing isn’t just cute and aesthetically pleasing. It helps tell a story that engages people and encourages them to interact with the ad design. It’s a perfect example of how graphic design drawing can enhance your message and make marketing more memorable.



Graphic design drawing is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of web design. Still, it’s sometimes present in that area.

Many contemporary websites have hand-drawn elements to help achieve a more casual, human look.

Here’s a beautiful example of a 404 page created by one of our designers. A boring stock photo or a plain error message might cause frustration with the website visitor. On the other hand, this fun illustration is sure to engage them and bring a bit of fun into a situation no web user likes to be in.



Packaging has a significant impact on purchase decisions. An impressive 72% of American consumers say they’ve tried a product because of its packaging. Another fascinating insight is that around 40% of them will post a product on social media if the packaging is interesting or beautiful.

So, stunning packaging can boost sales and lead to free advertising - what’s not to love?!

pacakging illustration.gif
illustrated packaging.png


If there’s a critical application for drawing in graphic design, it’s this one. Storyboarding basically means creating graphic design sketches showing the sequence of a story. It’s most commonly used in motion and video design.

As you might know, videos are highly effective in marketing these days. And graphic videos are a way to harness the appeal of videos without having to pay for costly recording equipment or stand in front of the camera yourself.

So, if this is something you’re looking to introduce into your marketing strategy, you’ll need a designer who can create these sketches.

Graphic designer vs illustrator: who to hire

So, what is a better investment for your business, a graphic designer or an illustrator? It, of course, depends on your needs, but in most cases, the answer is a graphic designer.

If you need digital ads, landing pages, websites, or social media posts, these are all things a designer knows how to do. Of course, in some cases, you’d want to enrich these with custom illustrations, but as we’ve mentioned, there are many places where you can get them online. Freepik has a lot of fantastic free resources, as well as our own free illustration gallery with thousands of customizable graphic illustrations!

If, on the other hand, you need very elaborate illustrations, such as a book cover or custom packaging, an illustrator might be what you need.

Bear in mind that since graphic design drawing is a skill that requires lots of talent and even more practice, these design professionals charge higher rates.

Get graphic design and illustration all in one place!

As you can see, graphic design sometimes involves drawing, but not necessarily. Illustration is a specific area of design that requires drawing and design skills, as well as particular equipment such as a the best drawing tablet.

Drawing in graphic design can add much visual interest to graphics, so many modern businesses employ this design tactic. However, it’s usually not the most important thing for creating versatile graphic assets. Creating layouts, consistent visual style, and elements such as typography and color schemes are vital for creating a powerful brand image.

So, is there a way you can have both: a skilled drawing designer and a versatile professional who can create designs for several different purposes? Absolutely!

ManyPixels is a professional unlimited design service that allows you to access a whole team of designers at an affordable monthly rate. Whatever your project is, whether it’s a custom illustration or a brand style guide, we’ll assign the best person on the job.

Discover more about our service or book an informative 1:1 demo session for an opportunity to ask us any questions and inquire about our capabilities!

When lay people think of graphic design, they likely imagine graphic design drawing. But is there a difference between the two, and what is it? We’ll explain!

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