How to Make a Straight Line in Photoshop

Photoshop can do a lot of really cool and amazing things…but can it make a straight line? You bet! Even though Photoshop is not the best-known software for making vectors, you can definitely draw lines. In fact, there’s more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. 

Hey there! I’m Cara and I love creating stuff in Photoshop! You’ll see lots of my tutorials here on PhotoshopBuzz to prove it. 

But sometimes you gotta get back to the basics, such as how to make a straight line in Photoshop. Let’s look at three ways to do it! 

Quick note: the screenshots and tutorials below are based on Photoshop CC for Windows, macOS and other versions can be slightly different.

Method 1: The Line Tool

The first method is probably the most obvious. I mean, it’s right there in the name – the Line tool. You’ll find this tool on the toolbar, probably behind one of the other shape tools.

With the tool active, you can easily draw a line from one point to another, but there are a couple of things you need to set first.

The Options bar is where all these settings are found. First, make sure the type is set to Shape otherwise you’ll end up drawing a path. The Fill box is next, but we’re drawing a line not a shape with an interior, so this box doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the Stroke box because that’s where you choose the color of your line. You can choose any recently used color, grab one from one of the presets, or pick your own perfect color from the color picker. 

The next box is the size of your line. If it is set to 0 pixels, nothing will happen when you try to draw a line. The number you choose here depends on the size of your project and how thick you want your line to be. A larger number equals a thicker line. 

The next box allows you to choose between a solid line and a dotted or dashed line.

Once you have your settings the way you want them, you can draw your line. Click and drag from one point to another and the line will appear. If you want your line to be perfectly straight horizontally, vertically, or at a 45-degree angle, hold Shift while dragging.

Method 2: The Pen Tool

When you think about it, the Pen tool also makes sense as a line drawing implement. On paper, you draw lines with a pen and you can in Photoshop too!

The Pen tool works surprisingly similar to the Line tool. Let’s take a look. 

Open the Pen tool by choosing it from the toolbar on the left. You can also get to it by pressing P on the keyboard.

As with the Line tool, we’ll need to pick some settings in the Options bar. First off, make sure to set the first box to Shape instead of Path. Otherwise, the other settings won’t even appear.

It’s also important to ensure that the Fill box is set to transparent otherwise you’ll get some funky stuff going on. Transparency here is indicated by a white box with a red slash through it. 

The Stroke is where you choose the color of your line. Choose the line width in the next box and choose a line style (solid, dotted, or dashed) in the last dropdown. 

With your settings in place, click to drop a point where you want your line to begin. Drop another point at the other end of the line and voila! a line appears! 

To get a perfectly straight horizontal, vertical or 45-degree angled line, hold the Shift key while dropping the second point.

A handy thing to note with the pen tool is that as you keep dropping points, you can keep drawing straight lines that are connected. This can be helpful for tracing straight-edged shapes and other tasks.

Another handy bit about the pen tool is that you can easily use it to create curved lines. Instead of just clicking to drop your second point, click and drag. A preview of your line will appear and you simply drag your mouse in the appropriate direction to get the curve you want.

When you let go of the mouse, you’ll end up with a curved line.

Method 3: The Brush Tool

If you’ve used the brush tool extensively you might have already realized you can use it to create a straight line. However, it works a little differently than the previous two so let’s take a closer look. 

Access the Brush tool by selecting it from the toolbar or pressing B on your keyboard.

Go up to the settings in the Options bar to determine how your line will appear. Click the little arrow next to the brush preview to open the Brush Settings panel. 

The size of your brush will determine the thickness of your line. If you want a solid line, take the hardness up to 100%. If you prefer a soft, fuzzy line, you can bring the hardness down to create the desired effect. 

The color of the line is determined by your foreground color. To change it, double-click on the foreground color square at the bottom of the toolbar to access the color picker.

Now you’re ready to create your line. Unlike the last two methods, you can’t just click and drag (or click and click) to end up with a straight line. If you try to draw it, you’ll end up with something like this.

My freehand line isn’t too bad, but it isn’t actually straight, either. You have to hold Shift to get a straight line with the brush. 

And it will just make a straight line, not necessarily a vertical, horizontal, or 45-degree angle line. This can be helpful when you don’t want to restrict your line to one of the main angles.  

Now you might notice that since I’m using a round brush, the ends are rounded. If you need squared-off corners as a line normally would have, you can create square brushes in Photoshop and use them too.

And there you have it! Three simple methods to make a straight line in Photoshop. Intrigued by these tips? Don’t hesitate to check out more of our tutorials here on PhotoshopBuzz!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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