How to Draw Ancient Egyptian Art

By Natalie Chardonnet
Learn the meaning behind Egyptian hieroglyphics as you draw.

Ancient Egyptian art has an endless appeal. The hieroglyphs that often accompany murals and other Egyptian paintings are beautiful in themselves. Children particularly will love copying them, to write in code. The images of people and animals, with their bright colors and flat paint surfaces, are also simple to copy, making a fun project for students learning about ancient Egyptian culture.

Drawing Hieroglyphs

Use the hieroglyphic chart in the resources section of this article. The sound of each of the hieroglyphs shown corresponds with a sound in English. Note that there are different hieroglyphs for the different sounds of the letter E, for instance, and hieroglyphs that represent the sounds of ph, ch, and th.

In "translating" English words into hieroglyphs, it is easiest to work phonetically. You do not have to include hieroglyphs for silent letters -- like the e in 'like" -- or double letters -- like the second t in "letters."

Use the chart to translate your message. To write as the ancient Egyptians did, create your message in a vertical column, rather than a horizontal line. When you are finished translating, color the hieroglyphs with pencils or markers.

Drawing people

Note the way the heads are facing in this painting.

Egyptian art is highly stylized. Typically, when people and gods are depicted, the head faces the side, the torso faces the front and the legs and feet are presented in the same direction as the head. This style is unique to ancient Egypt. Practice copying some of the details in a painting before attempting a full figure drawing.

Notice the difference between the female and male hairstyles.

Choose the figure you are interested in. Draw the outline of the entire figure, head to toe, as if for a simple cutout.

When your are satisfied with the overall shape, go back in and draw the outlines of the hair, clothing and jewelry.

Add the details of the face and ornaments. Color the figure with colored pencils.

Decorate the background of your picture with hieroglyphs, if desired. You can spell out words, sign your name, or simply add hieroglyphs with shapes you like. (See References 2)

About the Author

Natalie Chardonnet began writing in 2006, specializing in art, history, museums and travel. In 2010, she presented a paper on those subjects at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Chardonnet has a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a minor in Italian studies from Truman State University, in addition to a certificate in French from Ifalpes University in Chambery, France.