How to create a dotted line in Illustrator

Create a dotted line in illustrator header image

In this tutorial, we’re taking a look at how to create a dotted line in Illustrator.

Illustrator dotted lines are an effective way to clarify infographics and embellish your vector illustrations.

Draw a dotted line in Illustrator following these steps:

  1. Create a line or shape using the line segment tool (/)
  2. Go to the Appearance section of the Properties tab on the right-hand side.
  3. Click Stroke to open the stroke options
  4. Tick the box marked Dashed Line
  5. Enter values for lengths of dashes and gaps in between
  6. Specify a line thickness by entering a value in the Weight field
  7. Choose from butt, round or projecting Caps to alter the shape of the dashes

These are the basic steps to follow when you create a dotted (or “dashed”) line using Illustrator’s built-in tool. However, there are other methods to discover if you want to customise your dots and dashes even further. Check out our video tutorial for a more advanced lesson on Illustrator dotted lines.

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Video tutorial: How to create a dotted line in Illustrator

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Video Transcription

How to use create a dotted line in Illustrator

Today, you’ll be learning how to create a dotted line in Illustrator. Here’s how.

We’re going to be teaching you two methods.

You can use this first method to create your own shape and place it into the line. Here are a few examples of what you can achieve.

Firstly, in your Illustrator comp, you need to create a shape. As we want to create a dotted line. I’m going to use a circle. Hold shift whilst you drag the mouse to create a circle, and this will constrain the proportions of the shape and keep it exactly the same radius all the way around.

You may want to add a fill or keep the centre of the shape empty. You can change this by going to the top left and changing the colours. The left box is for the colour of the fill, and the right box is for the colour of the stroke. You can also adjust the stroke to increase the thickness.

I want to have a solid black circle, so I’ll change the fill and the stroke to black. I’ll then enable the brushes window by clicking Window and selecting Brushes. We’ll see this window pop up, then click and drag the shape to the presets area.

A New Brush window will pop up, asking for you to select a brush type. I’ll select scatter brush    and click OK.

You’ll see the Scatter Brush options pop up, just click OK for now as we’ll come back to these in just a moment. 

You can then add the path for your dotted line, so click on the line tool and drag it where you need it – then you just need to click on the new brush you’ve just added to the Brushes panel.

Depending on how big you’ve made your initial shape, the dotted line might look too big or small. We can adjust this by double-clicking the shape in the Brushes panel. You can reduce the size of each dot by changing the size slider. Then change the spacing of the dots so that they fit your desired distance. You’ve also got the option to randomise these options and have results that look like this, but that’s for another video.

Then click OK, apply to Strokes, and you’re done with the first method.

Now the second method uses built-in tool rather than a shape you’ve made to create the dotted line.

Firstly, create a line. Then go to the Properties window on the right-hand side, and click on the Stroke. You can also access this through enabling the Appearance window.

Click Enable Dashed line, then add a gap value for distance between the dots. If it’s just a solid line still, chances are the Brush Definition is set to something other than a basic line. Change it to a basic line, and you should see that it has become a tiny dotted line. You can then increase the weight to the size of the dots you’d like. 

You’ve got three choices of caps: Butt, Round and Projecting. For a rounded dot, select round. For a square dot, select Projecting. For a different dash pattern, you can include up to 3 dash and gap values, like this.

For the dotted line, you can also change the profile to have a different stylised shape path.

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Thanks for watching.