Born in the royal town of Kelantan, Kubang Kerian in the district of Kota Bharu, Khalil Ibrahim began attending art classes where he gained knowledge in the art of watercolour and painting techniques from an art inspector, Nik Mahmood Idris. Khalil was among the few Malaysian artists who was awarded a Pahang state scholarship to attend the prestigious Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London, England. He met Judith Hürzeler in London in 1963 with whom he would be married until his demise in 2018. He held his first solo exhibition at Samat Art Gallery in 1968 followed by several solo shows in Indonesia and Singapore. He was adept in watercolour on paper, oil and acrylic on canvas, ink drawings and batik paintings. His subject matters vary from portraits, figurative, landscape, and abstract.