How to Draw Tribal Designs

Written by lauren pringle
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How to Draw Tribal Designs
Create your own tribal tattoo. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tribal designs are a popular art within the tattoo industry. Whether you intend to tribally tattoo yourself or create some of your own tribal artwork, it is important to research the art form. Usually tribal designs carry significance or meaning so investigate which types of tribal artwork you like and get sketching. Drawing your own tribal design will develop your drawing techniques and inspire you to learn more about this ancient art form.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Investigate various types of tribal artworks. Search the Internet and learn about which tribal patterns and designs you like the best. Try researching Maori, Chinese and South Pacific island tribal artwork to inspire your own drawings.

  2. 2

    Use a pencil and sketch faintly a rough idea of the shape you want to create for your tribal design. If you are struggling to coming up with an original design, copy and follow certain shapes and lines you like from tribal designs you have researched. This will help to get you on the right track. You could also try drawing three separate curved lines that interlink each other. Overlap the lines just above the middle of the shape to create a more natural centre point that is not exactly symmetrical.

  3. 3

    Check the lines you have drawn to see if they are evenly balanced. Add in any extra lines to create more body in the design. Thicken the lines by half an inch. Define how delicate or how masculine you want your design. The thicker the lines, the more masculine the design.

  4. 4

    Add points and spikes to the end of your lines. Round off each end of each line into a curved point. Try adding a slight swirl and curve to the shape. It is best to keep your tribal tattoos as simple as possible but adding an extra small line or swirl to your design can make all the difference.

  5. 5

    Outline the drawing with a fine black pen. Erase the pencil lines.

  6. 6

    Colour your design in using a black marker. Tribal designs are usually coloured boldly in black, however this is your design so you can try simply shading in the design or leave a simple black outline.

Tips and warnings

  • Tribal designs come in a variety of forms. Experiment with all kinds of patterns and shapes.
  • If you intend on tattooing your tribal design, ensure you go to a professional studio.

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