To draw lines in Photoshop, there are a variety of different tools you can use. Depending on the type of line you want to create, some options might prove more useful than others.
The three best options you have for creating lines are the Line Tool, Pen Tool, or the Brush Tool. Let’s get more in-depth with these tools and the options you have at your disposal.
Option 1: The Line Tool
Step 1: Select The Line Tool (U)
Select the Line Tool (U) from the Toolbar. To access it, click and hold on the active Shape Tool to reveal it. Then, set the Mode to Shape in the Options Bar.
Step 2: Change The Stroke Color
With your line tool selected, you’ll need to make a few settings adjustments before creating a line. First, click on the Stroke color box to select your desired color for the line.
Note: You can also change the Stroke color after you have drawn your line on the canvas. Ensure the Line Tool is active and change the Stroke Color in the Options Bar.
Step 3: Set The Stroke Width And Line Weight
Then set the stroke width to set how thick your line will appear. If you aren’t sure, start with a stroke between 15-25px. This can always be adjusted later.
Note: You can also adjust the Stroke Width after drawing the line as long as the Line Tool is active. Type in your new stroke width value and press Enter.
Next, adjust the Line Weight using the box in the Options Bar. This setting determines the width of the shape line. You can use this setting if you want to add a different Fill Color to the line that is separate from the Stroke Color.
Step 4: Draw The Line On The Canvas
Now it’s time to draw out the line. Click and drag out anywhere on your canvas to begin drawing. The further you drag out the cursor, the longer your line will be. Hold in Shift to draw a straight line.
Step 5: Create A Dotted Or Dashed Line (Optional)
By default, the line tool will make solid colored lines. If you’d rather have a dashed or dotted line, you can change this with the stroke type.
Beside the stroke adjustment is a preview of your line. Clicking on this box will reveal an option for either a dotted or a dashed line. Click on either one to select it.
Depending on your line’s size, you may need to adjust the spacing and size of the dashes. At the bottom of the stroke options panel, click More Options.
In the stroke options window, make sure Dashed Line is checked off, or choose from one of the preset options.
To adjust the width of each dash and the gap between, type in values for the dash and gap.
- The dash size sets how long each individual dash will look
- The gap will set how far each dash is spread apart
You can further customize your line and its edges by working through the alignment options as well. Once everything looks good, click OK, and your work is complete.
Step 6: Create A Curved Line (Optional)
Since the Line Tool works by creating a thin rectangle, it’s impossible to curve the line tool while drawing a line. Instead, you have to use a warp adjustment.
With your line layer selected, press Control + T (Win) or Command + T (Mac) to access the Transform Tool. Then click on the Warp Mode icon in the Options Bar.
From here, you can click and drag any part of your line to curve it as you wish. It’s easiest to do this manually, but there are a few preset options you can choose from.
To select a preset curve adjustment, choose any of the options from the warp type drop-down menu. This can be useful as a starting point for your warp adjustments.
Option 2: How To Draw Lines With The Brush Tool
Step 1: Activate The Brush Tool (B)
To create a line with the Brush Tool, select it from the Toolbar and press B.
Step 2: Change The Foreground Color
Unlike the other tools that have shape layers to work with, the Brush Tool requires you to set a color before painting. To set the brush color, click on the Foreground Swatch in the Toolbar.
Then, choose a new color from the Color Picker. Click OK when you’re happy.
Step 3: Adjust The Brush Size And Hardness
Going up to your brush settings, select a size (the thickness of your brushstroke) and hardness for your brush. To create a solid line, make sure your hardness is set to 100%. This will create a nice sharp edge to your brush strokes.
Step 4: Adjust The Brush Flow And Opacity In The Options Bar
Next, make sure your Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.
To get the cleanest-looking lines, increase the brush smoothing to 100%. Smoothing will help to smooth out any irregularities in your brush strokes. That way, you end up with flawless brush strokes and lines every time!
Step 5: Create A New Layer And Add Your Brush Stroke
With your settings in order, create a new layer to make your brush strokes on. With the new layer selected, click and drag on your canvas to create a line. By moving your cursor in the shape you want, you can create just about any line you need.
To draw straight lines using the Brush Tool, hold in Shift while painting on the canvas.
Step 6: Create A Dotted Line (Optional)
To create a dotted brushstroke, you need to change the Spacing of your brush tip. To do this, open the Brush Settings Panel and select the Brush Tip Shape tab.
Check off the Spacing option and increase the spacing slider as necessary. You can use the brush preview below or draw on your canvas to see how it looks.
Now, when you create a brushstroke, it will be made up of individual dots rather than a continuous line. You can either freehand your lines or use the Shift key to create straight dotted lines!
Note: If you don’t see this panel, go to Window > Brush Settings.
Option 3: Using The Pen Tool To Draw Lines
Step 1: Activate The Pen Tool (P) And Set The Mode To Shape
Select the Pen Tool from the Toolbar or press P. Then, set the pen mode to Shape in the Options Bar to turn your pen path into a line.
Step 2: Set The Pen’s Fill, Stroke, And Width
Next, change the Fill color to transparent, represented by the white box with the red line through it.
Now select a Stroke color to choose the color of your line. Like the Line Tool, this color can be changed later on.
Set the Stroke Width to match the thickness of the line you want. If you aren’t sure, starting around 25px is a safe bet.
Step 3: Add Anchor Points On The Canvas To Draw A Line
With your settings in order, click anywhere on your canvas to create new anchor points. These anchor points control your path while setting the start and endpoint of your line. While creating anchor points, click and drag to curve your pen path.
If you want perfectly straight lines, hold Shift while creating anchor points to make sure each line is perfectly straight horizontally or vertically. Regardless of where your mouse is, this will only place anchor points in straight lines horizontally or vertically from your initial anchor point.
Step 4: Make Dotted Lines (Optional)
You can create a dotted line with the Pen Tool via the stroke type option. Click on the stroke type drop-down window to reveal the dotted or dashed line preset. Select which type you want to create.
To further customize the look of your dotted lines, go through the More Options panel.
By using these three different methods to draw lines in Photoshop, you are ready for anything. Having a few different techniques like this helps to get the exact look you’re going for with a line. Depending on your specific photo, one method may work better than another.
For general use, using the Line Tool is the fastest and easiest way to make lines in Photoshop. Since you just click and drag, it doesn’t get more simple than that! Better yet, you can customize all the aspects of your line at any point after creating it.
On the other hand, the Pen Tool makes it easy to curve lines or make them follow along a certain edge. Similarly, with the Brush Tool, you can create just about any type of line since it’s all created freehand!
No matter which tool you use, one thing is for sure: you have now become a master of creating lines in Photoshop.
– Brendan 🙂