I suppose this must be an easy question, but I searched for it and couldn't find any related docs. What I want to achieve, with Inkscape (1.0, in MacOS), is hand drawn brush strokes (with mass, pressure control, etc...) but getting a dashed line instead of a continuous line (just imagine you are hand-drawing a cube in perspective, and you want the hidden lines to be dashed).

So, I use the "Draw calligraphic or brush strokes" tool, which seems to be the best suited tool for hand drawing, but when I select a stroke done in this way and go to the "Fill and stroke" settings, the "Dashes" setting in "Stroke style" is greyed out...

If I use the "Draw Bezier curves and straight lines" tool instead, then the "Dashes" field is available, but that tool is not well suited for hand drawing...

Can I get a dashed style for hand drawn brush strokes?



3 Answers 3


It's possible to achieve this with some tricks.

  1. Draw a path, normally, with the pencil tool.
  2. Apply a PowerStroke path effect to it and tweak the stroke width with the pink handles (make more with Ctrl+click on an existing one). Jump to 3. below.


  1. Plug in your graphics tablet

  2. Use the PowerPencil to draw a pressure dependent path with it.

  3. Copy to clipboard

  4. Draw a short two-node path.

  5. Apply the 'Clone original' path effect to it.

  6. Link it to the copy on the clipboard.

  7. Choose 'Without LPE' in the Clone original LPE settings.

  8. Give this path a dashed stroke in a color of your liking. Make the stroke wider than the PowerStroke on the other path.

  9. Select the path that has the PowerStroke again.

  10. Clone it with Edit -> Clone.

  11. Use the clone to clip the path with the 'Clone original' LPE (and the dashed stroke).

  12. Change the color of the path with the PowerStroke, so you can no longer see it, but can still modify it, e.g. make it white, or transparent (and use the objects dialog to select it again if you lose it).

  13. Warning: do not ever move the original PowerStroke path, only modify it with the node tool. Else the clip will move away from the object that it's clipping.

  14. You can now still adjust the path by editing the invisible PowerStroke path.


Do the same thing manually, by clipping a wide, dashed stroked path with a variable width calligraphy shape that has approximately the same shape.

This is not easily editable, but much faster.

Example file:


Screenshot: Variable stroke width path with dashes

  • can you provide a video?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 8:01

TLDR: Dashes can only be applied to an actual stroke. The Calligraphic tool doesn't make "strokes". It might look like a stroke, but it's not.

Sounds to me like your looking for the Pencil tool, which can be used to draw freehand. It's hard to tell for sure if the Pencil Tool is what you really need. Might be better if you post an example image showing what you are actually trying to achieve.

A fuller exaplanation

The Calligraphic tool doesn't produce a single open path, it creates a shape made of a closed path which is usually filled. That's why you can't apply a dash. Dashes can only be applied to an actual stroke. Perhaps ultimately your confusion lies in a misunderstanding of paths, fills and strokes, which is crucial to understanding how vector graphics work (not just in Inkscape, but any vector image editor).

Here's an example below which shows the difference between a path created using the Pencil Tool with a stroke and a closed path/shape made with the Calligraphic tool which is filled. Here the paths are highlighted so you can see them clearly.

enter image description here

  • Thanks a lot. The fact the tool is called "brush strokes" made me assume it created strokes... I'm finding the UI a bit weird, for example having to set the style after you draw a stroke instead of before looks very twisted to me (I was suspecting there was a bug in the MacOS version until I saw this: youtube.com/watch?v=c2nXAlpg8HM ...and, having to use the preferences dialog every time you want to draw with a given style is quite counterproductive, IMHO). Now I understand why there's a thickness in the brush strokes tool and not in the pencil tool. This UI is not natural IMHO
    – cesss
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:30
  • 1
    @cesss You can change the preferences for tools in Inkscape to have it remember the last style, which should save you some time. For example: Edit > Preferences > Pencil > Last Used style. I have found that User Interfaces on complex graphics software are not intuitive. All have a steep learning curve unfortunately, but that's generally the nature of complex tools. The more complex the tool, the worse it gets. The only way to get around that is to practice and familiarise yourself with the software.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:51
  • Thanks a lot again, @Billy Kerr. Yes, you are right.
    – cesss
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 12:10
  • @BillyKerr is intuitive defined as anything i dont get in less than a second?
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 13:49
  • @joojaa - yes, exactly!! LOL.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 15:04

Use Patterns

I also see that this video can help you expand your skill on this feature: Turn Any Object Into A Pattern In Inkscape

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