How To Make Dotted & Dashed Lines In Photoshop

There are different customizable methods to make dotted and dashed lines in Photoshop. These lines create interesting patterns that can be used as decorative elements for documents, backgrounds, and images. Instead of merging circles or rectangles to make straight or curved lines, you can use these simple methods.

To create a dotted or dashed line in Photoshop, select the Line Tool and select the stroke options in the upper settings bar. Next, select the desired dotted or dashed stroke. Alternatively, you can create dotted lines with the Brush Tool by going to Brush Settings and increasing the brush spacing.

Many people start out doing things the long way until learning the easier methods. I know I definitely have. Instead of getting stuck with dotted and dashed lines manually, here are three much easier ways of making dotted and dashed lines in Photoshop.

Video Tutorial

How To Make Dotted Lines With The Brush Tool

To create dotted lines with the brush tool, you need to adjust some of the brush settings for the brush strokes to look like dotted lines rather than regular brush strokes.

To do this, go up to  Window > Brush Settings (F5)  

In the brush settings panel, click the “Brushes” tab. Then, move the slider to the left to decrease the brush size or to the right to increase it.

Lastly, choose a hard round brush.

Then, click the brush settings tab, go to the spacing slider and move the slider to 100% or more to create the dotted line effect.

The distance between the dots increases as you increase the spacing percentage.

Click and drag on the canvas while holding ‘shift’ to draw a dotted line. Holding ‘shift’ allows you to draw a straight dotted line.

Saving Your Brush Preset As A New Dotted Brush

Once you are happy with the dotted line settings, you can save them as a brush preset. This will allow you to use the same settings next time you open Photoshop.

To do this, click the menu icon on the top right side of the brush settings panel. Then, choose ‘New Brush Preset.’

This will bring up the ‘New Brush’ dialog box, where you can name your new brush.

After naming the brush, leave ‘Include Tool Settings’ checked and click OK to close the dialog box and save the new brush.

When you open the brush panel again, your new brush will be at the bottom of the panel.

How To Created Dotted Or Dashed Lines With The Line Tool

One of the easiest ways to create a dotted line is using the line tool. But you need to alter a few settings to create a dotted line.

First, select the line tool in the toolbar. It’s the fifth shape listed within the shape tools.

Then, draw a straight line on the canvas by clicking and dragging while holding ‘shift’ from one point to another.

With the line still selected go to the options bar and make sure the fill is transparent.

Choose any color you like for the stroke. The stroke color will be the color of the dotted line. You can choose one of the colors listed in the panel or click the colorful icon on the top right corner of the panel to open the color picker panel where you can find more options.

You can also change the line thickness in the options bar by moving the thickness slider to the left to decrease it or to the right to increase it.

Finally, go to the stroke options menu and set the stroke type to a dotted or dashed line (the second and third options listed).

This will turn your straight line into a dotted or dashed line depending on which option you selected.

You can also adjust the space between the dashes. To do this, click ‘More Options’ in the stroke options menu.

The stroke panel will appear. In the ‘Gap’ input box, enter the amount of spacing you want between the dashes. Click OK when you’re finished.

How To Create Dotted Lines Using The Pen Tool 

The pen tool is versatile and allows you to create straight and curved lines for creative results. To create dotted lines with the pen tool, you need to adjust some brush settings.

To do this, go to the brush settings panel, choose a hard round brush, and set brush spacing to 100% or more.

Creating A Straight Dotted Line With The Pen Tool

Now, to create a straight dotted line, select the pen tool from the toolbar (P).

Then, click somewhere on the canvas (This will be point A).

Next, click another part of the canvas while holding ‘shift’ (Point B). The connection of the two points makes up a straight line.

Now, right-click (Win) or Command + click (Mac) the straight line and choose ‘Stroke path’.

In the dialog box that opens, set the tool to ‘Brush’ and click Ok. This will create a straight dotted line using the same settings as your previously used brush.

Creating An S-shaped Dotted Line With The Pen Tool

There are a couple of ways of creating an s-shaped line, but I will show you a very easy method.

Before creating an s-shaped dotted line, make sure your brush is set to hard round, and the brush spacing is set to 100% or more, as learned in the previous section. This is because your brush settings will be used to create a line along the pen path.

Those brush settings affect the line you will create, so you need to change these settings before creating the line. Once you change brush settings, select the pen tool from the toolbar (P).

Then, go to the options bar and change pen mode to ‘Path’.

Next, click somewhere on the canvas to create an anchor point.

Then, click another spot of the canvas while holding ‘shift’ to add another anchor point. Now you have a straight line.

Now, hover over the middle of the path with the pen tool. You will notice a plus sign will appear next to it.

When the plus sign appears, click the middle of the path to create a third anchor point.

Notice the anchor point has two control handles on both sides.

Each control handle will affect the two curves that will create the s-shape.

Start by lifting the left handle. To lift it, click and drag it upwards while holding Control ( Win) or Command (Mac).

The curve will increase as you drag the control handle upward. If you want to decrease the curvature, drag the control handle down.

As for the curve on the right side, click the right handle and drag it down while holding Control (Win) or Command (Mac) to increase the curvature as needed.

When you finish adjusting your s-shaped curve, right-click on the line and choose ‘Stroke Path.’

In the dialog box that opens, set the tool to ‘Brush’ and click Ok.

This will turn the s-shaped line into a dotted line based on the previously selected brush settings.

So whether you’re using the Line Tool, the Brush Tool, or the Pen Tool, creating dotted and dashed lines in Photoshop is surprisingly straightforward! To help master all your line-creating skills, check out this next tutorial on creating lines in Photoshop!

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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