How to Create a Dotted Line in Illustrator

Have you been wondering about how to make dotted lines in Adobe Illustrator? It’s a useful skill in many applications like web, signage, and character designs. Thankfully, making dotted lines in Illustrator isn’t as difficult as it seems. It’s possible to download dotted lines through third-party applications or designer clip art sites. But unlike Illustrator, they don’t allow any tweaks in the design.

How to Create a Dotted Line in Illustrator

This guide will demonstrate how to create dotted lines in Illustrator. You’ll also learn the tools that’ll help you in the designing process.

Making Dotted Lines in Illustrator

You can use dotted lines to create outlines, custom brush stroke effects or highlight a design’s edge. They introduce dimensionality and texture to your artwork. Here’s how you can create a dotted line in Illustrator:

  1. Make a line or shape using the line segment tool. Enter the “Angle” and “Length” desired and click “OK.”
  2. To view the style options, navigate to the “Appearance” panel under the “Properties” tab.
  3. Select “Stroke” to expand and check options. Go to the “Weight” option, insert a thickness value of 20 points (pts.) for the line, and choose the “Round Cap” design.
  4. Check the “Dashed Line” box.
  5. Insert the length values for the dashes and gaps. Set the value of the first gap to at least 20 pts. to create a visible dashed line.
  6. Select the “dash” value next to “gap” and change it to 0 pt. to change the dashed line to a dotted line. Inserting a higher gap value will help increase the dots’ spacing.
  7. Navigate to the box on the furthest right of the checked “Dashed Line” box and select the box. This will uniformly align the dots to the path’s end and align them to fit the whole path.
  8. To create a second dash sequence for the dotted line, select 0 pt. for the second “dash” and then enter a value of 80 pt. for the second “gap” value.

You can also use the Line or Pen tools to create the line. The Caps design element you choose determines the shape of the endpoint on the dashes. You can always play around with the values until you achieve the dotted-line design you’re going for.

Creating Dotted Lines Using The Ellipse Tool

  1. Navigate to the left toolbar (L) and select the Ellipse tool.
  2. Create a circle using the tool.
  3. Navigate to the overhead menu and select “Windows.”
  4. Select “Brushes.”
  5. Drag the circle to the Brushes panel.
  6. A “New Brush” dialog window will appear. Illustrators’ default brush option is “Scatter Brush.”
  7. Click “OK.” Type in a name under the “Options” panel under the “Scatter Brush Options.”
  8. Use the “Line Segment Tool” to create a line.
  9. Return to the “Brushes” panel and select the dotted line brush.
  10. Open the “Scatter Brush Options” window again. Select the “Preview” box and modify the “Size” and “Spacing” settings until you achieve your desired dotted line design.

Creating Shapes Using Dotted Lines

Illustrator allows you to create a dotted line for any path design. The steps below will help you to use dotted lines on different shapes:

  1. Launch a new document in Illustrator.
  2. Select the Shape tool from the drop-down menu.
  3. Holding the Shift tool, left-click your mouse button, hold, then drag the dotted line shape you want to create.
  4. Go to “Window” in your Stroke panel and select “Stroke.” Your dotted line shape is ready.

Remember that the value you assign a gap when making a dotted line in Illustrator should be at least two times the width measurement.

Coloring Dotted Lines

Once you know how to make dotted lines, you can explore this design further by applying different transformations. The default color setting for dotted lines is black. The steps below will help you change the color of your dotted line:

  1. Run the Shift + X command.
  2. Navigate to the color panel on your right.
  3. Select your color option. The color will be applied to the dotted line.

Applying Contour to a Straight Dotted Line

This section is helpful if you’ve been looking for a way to create dotted lines with curves. Here’s how you can achieve the contour design:

  1. Select the “Anchor Point Tool.”
  2. Use the tool to click and drag the points to which you want to apply a curve.
  3. Utilize the handles on the curves to further sharpen the contours.

Basic Tools for Creating Dotted Lines

Illustrator provides useful tools to help you quickly make dotted lines. Some of the basic tools necessary for this design process are listed below:

Ellipse Tool

You can use this tool to make circle shapes. You can find this tool in Illustrator’s left toolbar. It’s embedded within the “Rectangle Tool” menu. The shortcut key is (L).

Line Segment Tool

Creating straight lines in Illustrator is made easy when using this element. It can be accessed via the left toolbar. The shortcut key is (\).

Stroke Panel

This panel provides various style options for Stroke design and customization. It’s embedded within the Appearance menu.

Brush Panel

You can find this panel on Illustrator’s right panel. You can use the different brush settings on the panel that you can adjust to achieve your intended design.

All these tools work together to help you achieve the best-dotted line designs.


Can you copy a dotted line to other shapes?

Yes. Using the eye dropper tool in Illustrator will help you duplicate dotted lines to other shapes. To use the tool, click on the dotted line while your new shape is selected, and it will be copied.

Why is your dashed line refusing to work on Illustrator?

You’ll need to ensure that no element is locked on the layer panel and that you’ve selected the correct item. Also, check the Appearance panel to ensure that there aren’t too many Stroke styling options, as they can create interference.

Sharpen Your Creativity Skills

Learning to create dotted lines is a great way to enhance your creative skills in Illustrator. Adding dotted lines can serve as a guide to other information in your artwork or as an attractive design element. And you can achieve it using the built-in tools in Illustrator. With a few tweaks to the dashed line, you can obtain the specific design effect you want. Remember, perfecting your dotted line may take a little practice, so be patient and allow for errors.

What type of designs do you expect to incorporate the dotted line? Is there another way to create a dotted line we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments section below.

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