Tod was born in Glasgow. He trained at Glasgow School of Art from 1927-31, and then at the Royal College of Art in London, where he won a scholarship to study at the British School in Rome. He travelled to Spain initially, due to the situation in Italy under Mussolini. However, with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he decided to take up his scholarship in the Italian capital. He specialized in etching and engraving until the 1940s when muscular dystrophy made this difficult. His subject matter was landscapes and townscapes in Scotland, Italy and Spain. There is a slight hint of caricature in his work, together with a lightness of touch.