Is Graphic Design Drawing the Same as Graphic Design?

Do all graphic designers need to know how to draw? And what’s the difference between graphic design drawing and graphic design?

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

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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 graphic desig career 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! 

Graphic designers communicate a message through visual means. In practice, that can mean ads (with or without words), logos and brand design, posters, flyers, type design, websites, t-shirts and merch, and many more applications.

Not all types of graphic design require drawing skills. It’s the graphic designer’s job to understand key design principles and how to combine different elements, such as shapes, lines, and typography into one coherent design. 

Even if hand-drawn elements are added to the  mix, many designers are still able to find them online and adapt them in the course of their design process.

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 design 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 design tool than pen and paper (although many designers use these for simple 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 graphic 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.



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?!

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

pacakging illustration.gif
illustrated packaging.png
By Iliyana Kostova  via Behance


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.

Best design software for drawing

Are you looking to master digital drawing and painting? Or want to expand your knowledge of design software other than the Adobe Creative suite?

Here are some of the best digital tools you need to know about. 

  • Adobe Photoshop:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS
    • Best for: Illustration, photo editing, digital painting
    • Features: Extensive brush options, layer management, photo manipulation tools
  • Adobe Illustrator:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS
    • Best for: Vector-based art, graphic design, logos
    • Features: Scalable vector graphics, precise drawing tools
  • Procreate:some text
    • Platform: iPadOS
    • Best for: Digital painting, illustration
    • Features: Extensive brush library, intuitive interface, time-lapse recording
  • Clip Studio Paint:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, iPadOS
    • Best for: Manga, comics, illustration
    • Features: Specialized tools for comic creation, extensive brush engine
  • Corel Painter:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS
    • Best for: Natural media painting (emulates traditional media)
    • Features: Realistic brushes, extensive customization options
  • Krita:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
    • Best for: Illustration, concept art, digital painting
    • Features: Free and open-source, extensive brush engine, supports animation
  • Affinity Designer (and Affinity Photo):some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS
    • Best for: Vector-based art (Designer), photo editing (Photo)
    • Features: Affordable alternative to Adobe software, professional-grade tools
  • Autodesk SketchBook:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
    • Best for: Sketching, drawing, concept art
    • Features: Streamlined interface, customizable brushes
  • MediBang Paint:some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
    • Best for: Manga, comics, illustration
    • Features: Free, cloud saving, collaboration tools
  • GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program):some text
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
    • Best for: Image editing, graphic design
    • Features: Free and open-source, supports third-party plugins.

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, a graphic designer should be your first choice. While they might not be good at drawing per se, a professional designer has different key skills, such as, knowledge of the key principles of design, research, branding, understanding of social media, communication skills, etc.

Good graphic designers are usually able to enrich their designs with illustrations, you can find them in different illustration libraries. Of course, these should always be adapted to the brand and purpose at hand.

However, if you want to make digital drawing the centerpiece of your design project, hiring a digital artist or illustrator is a better option. This might be, for example, an illustrated book cover or even a big hero illustration for your site.

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 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 stunning 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 get the best designer working on it!

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!

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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