How to Draw Lines in Adobe Illustrator

Drawing lines sounds easy but I totally understand why you’re struggling with it because that was how I started as well. The most difficult part was, not knowing where to begin or which tool to use. 

There are many ways you can draw lines in Illustrator, straight lines, curve lines, even spirals. Illustrator already has a couple of ready-to-use tools that create lines in seconds, and you can always use the powerful pen tool to draw any lines you want. 

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to draw lines using four drawing tools and when to use which.  

4 Ways to Draw Lines in Adobe Illustrator

The Line Segment Tool is good for drawing straight lines, but if you want to draw curve lines, you’ll need to use the pen tool or pencil for freehand lines. The spiral tool makes it so much easier if you’re drawing a spiral line/shape. 

Note: all screenshots are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC 2021 Mac version. Windows or other versions can look different.

Line Segment Tool

The basic idea is, click on the artboard to choose a starting point and drag the line to an ending point. 

If you need to draw a simple straight line, the easiest way is to use the Line Segment Tool (\). 

Simply select the tool from the toolbar, hold the Shift key, click and drag on the Artboard to create a straight line. 

Pen Tool 

When you create lines using the Pen tool, you’re connecting anchor points. You draw straight lines or curve lines. The first step is to decide on a starting point and click on the artboard to create the first anchor point. 

Then if you want to draw straight lines, simply click on the direction where you want to follow. 

If you want to draw curve lines, you need to drag when you click on the next anchor point. 

I do have a detailed pen tool tutorial explaining how it works if you’re not familiar with the pen tool. Read: How to Use the Pen Tool

Spiral Tool 

You might think that drawing spiral lines must be pretty difficult, but did you know that there’s actually a Spiral Tool? I’ll show you where it is. 

It’s not showing on the basic toolbar, but you can always find it from the Edit Toolbar option. 

Click on the Edit Toolbar menu, find the Spiral Tool and drag it to the toolbar (anywhere you want). I put mine together with the Arc tool. 

Now you can select the Spiral Tool, click and drag on the artboard to make a spiral. 

You can change how it looks by clicking on the artboard with the tool selected and adjust the settings in this dialog box. 

Radius determines the distance from the center to the furthest point in the spiral. Decay specifies how much each wind of the spiral decreases relative to the previous wind. You can set the number of Segments the spiral has. Each full wind has four segments. Style allows you to choose the direction of the spiral, clockwise or counterclockwise.

It can take some time to explore at the beginning because it’s hard to figure out what values to put, but you’ll get there. 

If you want to adjust the line thickness, fill, or stroke color, you can change it from the Properties panel > Appearance

Pencil Tool

The Pencil Tool is perfect for drawing freehand lines, even better if you have a Wacom tablet. You can use it to create freehand illustrations. 

Select the Pencil Tool (N) from the toolbar and start drawing just as you would using pen and paper. 

Final Words

Now that you’ve got the basic idea of drawing lines, just get some practice to make good use of the tools. The magic of Illustrator is, there’s always a tool that can make things easier. 

Line segment tool for straight lines, pen tool for making shapes, pencil tool for creating a freehand drawing, etc. You name it. 

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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  • Beygi

    Very excellent

  • Sirazuddin

    Nice