How to learn to draw traditional aboriginal art online

Updated April 17, 2017

Australian Aboriginal peoples have created art that reflects their spiritual and cultural traditions for thousands of years. In the 1970s this form of art was introduced to Western audiences and it has become increasingly popular. Aboriginal paintings sell in galleries for thousands of dollars, and can be seen in museums throughout the world. You can use a variety of online resources to learn how to draw in this Aboriginal style.

Learn about the culture and history of Aboriginal Art online. Knowing more about the background of this style of art will make your final drawings richer. You will also want to explore a range of Aboriginal Art from different cultural groups so that you have a wide choice of styles to use in your drawings. You can learn more online at websites like

Learn about the symbols used in Aboriginal Art online. Traditional Aboriginal artists use symbols to describe their Dreamtime and their spiritual traditions. Because those traditions are not supposed to be shared with outsiders they often cover them over with the dots that have become synonymous with aboriginal style. You can learn more about these symbols online at

Learn about the methods and materials of Aboriginal Art online. Aboriginal Art uses a wide variety of materials including rocks, sticks and the human body. You can learn more about traditional materials at the Methods and Materials website of Aboriginalartonline.

Follow student lesson plans for practicing Aboriginal Art. Now that you know about the culture, symbols and materials that Aboriginal artists use you can practice drawing using an online lesson plan. You can find many different lesson plans at the Teachers website on dreaming stories.

Create your own Aboriginal Art work. Now that you have had practice following student instructions you are ready to create your own Aboriginal Art drawing. Take your brown paper bag and crumple it until it is wrinkled and soft. Spread the bag out flat. Think about the symbols you learnt in step 2 and choose symbols that describe the story or dream you want to tell. Sketch those symbols in pencil. Choose felt pens that match the traditional colours of the Aboriginal culture that you have chosen as your inspiration. For example, if you want to make a piece in the style of the Western Desert, you would choose browns, ochres and rusts. Draw your symbols in colour and if you wish add light coloured dots to obscure the symbolic meaning but add graphic interest. Sign your original Aboriginal drawing.


Aboriginal Art is deeply linked to Aboriginal spirituality and you want to be sure that your drawing is respectful of those traditions. Non-indigenous artists who attempt to pass their work off as Aboriginal are considered frauds.

Things You'll Need

  • Sample aboriginal paintings
  • Brown paper bag
  • Pencil
  • Paint or felt pens
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About the Author

Lori Karnac is a librarian, researcher and professor who has done academic research and writing since 1990. Karnac has written for the Key West Arts blog and "Artlurker" in Miami. She has a Master of Arts in library and information sciences from the University of California at Berkeley, and teaches academic research, art and design classes.