How to design a viking ship

Written by andrew dewitt | 13/05/2017
How to design a viking ship
(Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt)

Viking ships had an attractive and functional design that allowed the ships to travel great distances and weather storms. While today we can look at the design of a Viking ship and admire its beauty, villagers who saw these ships appear on the horizon ran for their lives to avoid the pillaging to come. You can create your own design of a Viking ship with pencil, paper and your imagination. This project would work well in a history class; studencs can learn about the Vikings, design their own Viking ships and create Viking clans.

How to design a viking ship

Draw the framework of your Viking ship with a horizontal rectangular shape that curves up into triangles on the left and right sides. The rectangle will be the hull of the ship, and the points are the sternposts.

How to design a viking ship

Draw a diagonal line coming down from each corner and curving into a horizontal line that runs inside the top third of the ship; this is the top of the ship's near side. Add shields to the boat by drawing eight small circles on the side. You can use a compass to make this easier. Add semicircles to the far side of the Viking ship to show shields on the other side.

How to design a viking ship

Add a curved spiral on the top of the left and right corners of the Viking ship design. This will create the snakehead-style ornament that was popular on many Viking ships. Add seven diagonal lines coming out from between the shield, and add a small triangle at the end of each of these lines to create the oars. Draw the mast with a vertical pole shape coming out of the middle of the ship. Add the sail to the mast with a large sort of curved rectangular shape. Add a flag to the top of the mast with a sideways triangle.

How to design a viking ship

Draw the ropes for the mast with two diagonal lines from the top of the mast to the bas of each sternpost. Add a curved line inside the left and right corners of the ship to create the reinforcement on the sternposts.

How to design a viking ship

Ink your entire design to make the image of the Viking ship crisp and clean. Add small horizontal bands along the sides of the boat to create the planks of wood.

How to design a viking ship

Colour your design with art markers to truly bring the image to life. Use light brown for the sternposts and paddles and dark brown for the rest of the boat. Colour the shields in alternating primary colours.


Make a photocopy of your design in step 4 and test out different clan shields or even designs painted on the sail.


Be sure to place a sheet of paper under your design to prevent the ink from bleeding onto anything.

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Black ink pen
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Art markers

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