Can I be a graphic designer if I can’t draw?

When considering a career working in the creative industry it is all too easy to immediately think that you have to be good at drawing. No matter what role you’re considering whether it be an architect, photographer, and especially a graphic designer, people assume you have to be an expert at drawing.

As much as graphic design is about the deliverable at the end of the project. Graphic design is also about the process and steps you take to reach that outcome. This process can sometimes be mistakenly thought as filling sketch pads full of drawings for an endless amount of time to get the idea perfect. This could not be further from the truth. While some graphic design roles can require a basic level of drawing there are very few that require a level of skill beyond that.

At the beginning of each project you will either use pre-existing references or your own sketches to sell your idea for the solution to the project. I personally use a combination of references and moodboards at the beginning of each project to help the client understand what I have in mind for their solution. This is a direct result of personally not being good at drawing and it is perfectly fine to do this. I have never been asked by a client why I didn’t draw their solution or where my sketches were to look at. As a professional it is up to you to decide what method you prefer and works best for you.

Roles That Require Real Drawing Skills

If none of the job titles above peak your interest then you might want to consider taking your drawing skills seriously. Below I have listed a few jobs in the creative industry where being good at drawing can really make the difference.


Being a highly skilled drawer can absolutely be useful in a number of roles within the creative industry. If you have any interest in becoming an illustrator or creating concept art for games or movies then improving your drawing skills will be something you want to focus on.


If you have an interest in creating animated imagery such as cartoons and short films then drawing will also be a very big focus for the majority of your career. Drawing will be the foundation to this career path as you will constantly be referencing your sketches throughout projects.

Industrial Designer

Industrial design is the process of creating and developing concepts for physical products. While it may not be drawing a beautiful bowl of fruit, drawing multiple angles of physical objects so that you can then manufacture them is not an easy task. I have worked with industrial designers before and I am always amazed at how talented they are.

Environmental/Interior Designer

Similar to an industrial designer in that you will not be drawing flower arrangements, designers that work within physical spaces should have the ability to draw to understand the layout they want to create. Being skilled at drawing as an environmental or interior designer will also allow you to present an idea before going into production to avoid making mistakes and costing you your estimated budget.

Fashion Designer

I don’t want to say that all fashion designers need to be amazing at drawing because I have never really worked with one or knew one personally. However when I think of a fashion designer that designs clothing or silhouettes, I can imagine that being able to bring that idea to life through your drawings will help tremendously throughout the process. If you or anyone you know is a fashion designer, feel free to DM or tweet me your experience!

Exercises for Graphic Designers To Improve Your Drawing Skills

Whether you want to be a graphic designer or one of the other design focused roles I listed above. It can never hurt to want to improve your drawing skills. Here are 5 exercises I recommend if you want to improve your drawing skills today. These exercises should be used as a warm-up at the beginning of each work session and should not be used to produce the final outcome. Remember that the only way to get better at something is to practice and do it consistently.

Drawing With Your Opposite Hand

Switching hands before you start a drawing is a great way to disarm yourself from any preconceived thoughts. Because drawing with your opposite hand will most likely be unfamiliar, it will force you to focus on what you are trying to draw and not so much on trying to draw a perfect line.

1 Line Drawing

1 line drawing is exactly what it sounds like. As soon as you touch your pen or pencil to the paper, you cannot lift it up to draw multiple lines. You must keep your pen or pencil touching the paper the entire time until you finish your drawing. This exercise is great because it breaks the mold of what is considered an acceptable drawing.

Drawing Upside Down

If you are using an image as a reference for your drawing then take a moment to turn it upside. Similar to drawing with your opposite hand. Obscuring the image you are trying to draw will force you to focus on creating accurate lines rather than depicting an entire image at once.

Negative Space Drawing

This is a great warm-up and I would recommend doing this exercise in addition to any of the other exercises together. Negative space drawing means that instead of drawing your subject, draw or fill in the surrounding area creating a contour of your object. By the time you are done your drawing should be mostly filled in depending on your view of the subject.

Blind Contour Drawing

Blind contour drawings are one of the exercises I use the most to this very day. To do a blind contour simply put your pen or pencil to the paper while forcing yourself to never look down at what it is you are drawing. This will help you to better understand proximity with your drawings. Don’t be afraid if when you are done your drawing looks nothing like your actual subject. Mine never do either!