How to Draw a Line in Photoshop

By Aaron Parson

Photoshop has several methods to draw lines. Learn when and how to use the Brush, Line and Pen tools for straight lines and curves.

Things You'll Need

  • Graphics program

Despite its name, Photoshop CC's Line Tool isn't the only option for drawing a line. In many situations, it's not even the best tool for the job. The Line Tool can create dotted lines and arrows, but if you're just trying to draw a clean straight line, or want to draw using various brush styles, you'll have an easier time with the Brush Tool instead. To draw curved lines, learn to use the tricky Pen Tool.

Brush Tool

To draw straight lines, select the Brush Tool and hold the Shift key while you draw to lock the line straight. To draw multiple line segments, hold Shift and click once to place the end of each segment, drawing the line in between. These methods work in conjunction with other Brush Tool settings: Pick a preset brush style or set the size, hardness, shape, opacity and other brush options on the top toolbar to draw different types of lines.

Line Tool

Line Tool Basics

Right-click the Rectangle Tool icon and choose Line Tool. Click and drag to draw a line. Holding Shift with the Line Tool locks the line to a 45- or 90-degree angle.

Selecting the Line Tool

The top toolbar for the Line Tool has several options, many of which don't behave as you might expect at first glace. To change the thickness of the line, adjust the Weight setting. Set both the Fill and Stroke colors to the same color to create a solid line. If you turn off the Fill color, you end up with a hollow line. It helps to remember that the Line Tool is an offshoot of the Rectangle Tool; lines are simply narrow rectangles, not single strokes as with the Brush Tool.


As with other shapes, lines can be adjusted after you draw them. Select the shape layer containing a line to change its settings.

Advanced Line Options

Click the Stroke Options icon to change from a solid line to a dashed or dotted line. These options also include Align, Caps and Corners options to customize the style of the line and its endpoints. The stroke options apply only to the Stroke part of the line, not its Fill. If you have both the Stroke and Fill colors set the same, you won't see any dots or dashes, thanks to the Fill color filling in the gaps. Set the Fill color to No Color or an alternate color to avoid this problem.

For more control over the dash style, click More Options. Set the Dash and Gap values to customize the length of the dashes and gaps in the line.

Stroke Options and More Options


To add arrows to a line, click the gear icon next to the Weight and choose Start or End arrowheads.

Pen Tool

Draw Straight Lines

Click to place the ends of each line segment with the Pen Tool, and Photoshop draws the line in between. With single clicks, the Pen Tool always draws in straight lines, but holding the Shift key locks the lines to 45- and 90-degree angles, creating cleaner shapes.

Pen Tool drawing triangles

Draw Curved Lines

After you click to place the end of a line segment with the Pen Tool, continue holding the mouse button and drag to adjust the curve of the line. As you draw the shape, you'll see straight lines tangential to the curve that help indicate how you've positioned each curve. These lines are hidden after you finish drawing and deselect the shape.

Pen Tool drawing curves


Practice the Pen Tool using The Bézier Game, a website with tutorials and puzzles that use the same controls as Photoshop's Pen Tool.

Select the Pen Tool to draw lines and curves using Bézier curves. The Pen Tool takes getting used to, but is the best tool for creating complex shapes.