He completed his early education at the Chiney-Wali mosque in Lahore and then took admission in the Technical Railway School. Chugtai went on to study both in the sub-continent and abroad. He also studied at the well known Mayo School of Art, Lahore which is now known as the National College of Arts. His individual style was formed in the years before 1947, so the main body of his work was produced before Pakistan was born: Persian and Mongol Traditional Style. At Lahore's Mayo School of Art, Chughtai emphasized crafts more than art. He did not stay there very long and started learning on his own, concentrating on the traditional methods and techniques of Mongol artists. Then, he moved on to Calcutta and worked there foe several years, painting in Bengal School Style. He also studied under Abanindranath Tagore and Printmaking in London. He was also Head-instructor in Chromo-Lithography at the Mayo School of Art, Lahore.
About his painting. Chughtai writes,
"These humble creations are redolent of those old days when we were making efforts to live and dream with the brethren of this land...this background of my art should not be lost sight of." "Muraqqa-e-Chughai" is a rare publication in which Chughtai transformed the poetry of great Urdu poet Asad Ullah Khan Ghalib with his brilliant skilful strokes and elegant art-work.
Here the heights of literature seems to have been transformed into a the finest piece of art, specially the unparalleled water-colours of Chughtai. The verses of Ghalib and their illustrations by Chughtai provide a symmetrical effect. Perhaps no one else could have done justice to Ghalib's poetry other than Chughtai - in fact no one ever dared.
By 1923, when he was only 24, at that time he was able to start creating his unique style of drawing luscious, languid, narcissus-eyes and stylized figures with erotic overtones and heavy with fictional contents.
He also introduced him to some of Western art techniques, chiefly as practiced by Victorian artists, and to the cave painting of Ajanta, which were then in process of being re-discovered by contemporary painters.
It was in formative phase of his career that Chughtai imbibed certain stylization and mannerism, including extensive use of architectural motifs and pictorial nuances, which mark his illustrational paintings of this period.
Early in the thirties Chughtai visited Europe, researching on painting; also did a few years later.
Talking of water colours and name of Abdul Rehman Chughtai would be the first one would come to forth and perhaps the only one. His paintings are so close to reality with natural colours that one is simply spell bound and lost into the beautiful colours and brush strokes.
Chughtai also designed a number of postage stamps of Pakistan from 1949 to 1960s.On the independence day of 1951, he produced a set of 9 stamps, internationally known as Chughtai Art set, was considered as the most beautiful stamps of the world at that time. Abdul Rehman Chughtai died in 1975.
His style of Wash on paper technique acquired much popularity. Some of Chughtai's paintings were made several times but most of the paintings which were made only once.
Abdul Rehman achieved much fame and acclaim during his life time.
He died at his birth place, Lahore, on January 17 1975.