Is it true that nice design comes with a nice drawing?

Do designers have to know how to draw to be a good designer or not?


7 Answers 7


Sketching and drawing are often used as the basis to flesh out designs; it's often useful to have some preliminary designs so you know how text will flow, your proportions, etc. That being said, it's by no means necessary to be able to create those beautiful photorealistic drawings that make us all jealous when we see them.

I'll also start with "bubble drawings"; abstract shapes I move around and fit into the space. This is actually more helpful because once someone sees a strong, well-rendered image they often think that's the final placement rather than a "work in progress".

Like any skill, though, it's one that comes with practice. Get a sketch book and a pencil and doodle, doodle, doodle. Don't worry about what other people think - it's YOUR sketch book. Poke around and find some rendering techniques you like - some people like a hard-edged look, some (like me) a softer, "fill in with shadows" look. As long as you can put your ideas onto paper so YOU can read them you're successfully drawing.

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    You do not need to draw in this profession (ie pencil + paper = photo realism). You DO however need to be able to draw a layout/design that is recognizable and definitive - same vein as a wire frame. I can get client signoff from a 2 minute sketch of a layout...the actual production may take hours. That drawing/sketch is essential to hammering out ideas quickly, whether you and a client or you and your team.
    – Dawson
    Apr 3, 2011 at 8:12
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    +1 for extremely important point: "I'll also start with "bubble drawings"; abstract shapes I move around and fit into the space. This is actually more helpful because once someone sees a strong, well-rendered image they often think that's the final placement rather than a "work in progress"."
    – benteh
    Dec 25, 2013 at 20:05

Back in the day, I had to interview graphic artists to work at my agency. I had a lot of "illustrators" come in (i.e., fine arts background) and most of them had portfolios that emphasized illustration. Very few understood what was needed for graphic design. Now that we have computer-based tools, I think the ability to draw is not as important as a good sense of design.

Robin Williams has a book The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice that highlights the important skills needed (color, balance, contrast, typography, etc.)

The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice

Robin Williams wrote this one for people who now need to design pages but have not background or formal training in design. Follow her basic principles and your work is guaranteed to look more professional. organized, unified, and interesting. Witty and easy to read, this book is full of practical information, exercises, and quizzes that ensure you'll never look at a page in the same way again.

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    Up-voted this and down-voted all the others. Drawing certainly IS NOT required. It helps sure, so does excellent writing abilities, painting, photography, math and nearly every other topic imaginable. Its one of the best parts of being a designer, the bigger your library of knowledge the more you have to draw from but even with a small and simple library you can still be a brilliant designer. Play to your strengths.
    – Ryan
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:13

You don't need to be a virtuoso with a pencil, especially if you're going into computer graphics. There are maybe a few basic things that you need to be able to do:

1) Draw (sketch) well enough to be able to convey your ideas to someone else, likely your client or boss. I mean, if you really think about it, there are popular cartoons on TV and comics that look like they were drawn by a kid, yet they get the idea across without too much complication.

2) Sketch well enough for you to have a blueprint or storyboard of what your final piece will look like. The more you can plan it and flesh it out before you hit the computer, the better.

3) Draw well enough to be able to take that sketch, scan it in and use it as a guide for design tools like Photoshop.

Being able to draw will always help you visualize what's in your head and make it tangible, even if it doesn't look perfect. Consider what medium you'll be using and focus most of your energies on learning that, but don't ignore your ability to sketch. I think it will always come in handy.


All designers should know how to draw. In fact, I think everyone should know how to draw. It's a good skill to have. It's a extremely useful tool for brainstorming and general idea generation regardless of the line of work one does. Of course, as a graphic designer, where communicating visually is the key component it's especially important.


Graphic designers don't need to be well-versed in fine art. I suppose knowing how to paint could help, especially with understanding of color theory and composition, but plenty of people learn that stuff using Photoshop.

Knowing how to draw is pretty crucial, but it's important to define exactly what you mean by "draw." If you mean a realistic life drawing, then no that isn't important. However every graphic designer needs to be able to draw a clear sketch diagramming their print layout or site design or whatever.


Always required, but not much.

You can be a graphic designer even if you can't draw. But to be a good one you must be able to make sketches and drawings on paper, but not always professionally.

Start over with drawing on paper. Keep working on Designing Softwares, because you can learn to use software. Don't ever get frustrated or get worried if you can't draw properly. use some tutorials on drawing and sketches. when you get a confidence on drawing start over with digital design tutorials. As much practice you do, you will get more grip on the same.

Art is what you put creativity in reality and abstract art is what only artists and confused people can understand as abstract art itself is confused art. And if you can't create perfect illustrations then you are creating a new category of art. there is no rule of art, but creativity must be there.


You don't have to. Not for web design, at least.

I can't draw very well at all, but my designs are fine. I used to draw out a new layout for a site, on physical paper, but I find no more need to. It will definitely help to know how to draw, but there are many brushes you can use for Photoshop that will do a lot of the drawing for you. Look at the very site we're on: not a single graphic here took any special skill with drawing, but the site looks great.

Probably the more artistic your design is, the more it'll require an understanding of how to draw. I wouldn't expect a corporate environment to be too taxing on your ability to draw. Some creativity can come of using "pre-drawn" brushes, too.

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