MicroStation - Creating Custom Line Styles

The Line Style creation tools have not been updated for many years so the user interface and process and the dialog boxes involved in creation can be quite challenging. However, Line Styles are a powerful tool so worth getting to know as discussed in MicroStation - Using Custom Line Styles. The example below was created in MicroStation V8i but is still valid for CONNECT Edition, dialog box styling may have changed in some cases but the content is the same.

Creating line dashed line styles is fairly straightforward. However the real power of Line Styles is when they are used to create strings of symbols (it is even possible to create 3D Line Styles). The creation process in this case is a bit long winded and not at all intuitive so needs to be carried out carefully.

First plan the line styles you need. Maybe there will there be families of styles, for example these fire compartment lines:

where one style can be created then copied to produce variations, the same dash but with different text.

Here the same point symbol, a 1mm circle, is used at different spacing without any underlying dashes:

Think about the names that the Line Styles will have once complete; these need to be user friendly to communicate the purpose of the Line Style while being concise enough when displayed in the Line Style picker.

The components used to create Line Styles include:

  • Name: Every Line Style must have a name; the Name is the component that populates the Line Styles list.
  • Stroke Pattern: Every Line Style must include a Stroke Pattern; this consists of segments that can be either Dashes or Gaps. The geometry and number of segments can be varied to generate an infinite range of chain lines.
  • Point Symbol: These can be simple shapes or more complex groups of elements that are combined with a Stroke pattern to make a Point Component.
  • Point Component: Associates one or more Symbols with one or more Dashes/Gaps

For line styles that are more complex than chain lines it is logical to create point symbols first. To do this just draw each symbol at either actual size if it is representing a building element (so it can be placed with a scale factor of 1) or at a size that is easy to multiply if it is an abstract graphic. The open dots above are 1mm circles, so when the lines are placed as markup on a sheet, the scale factor will be the width of the required line when printed at 1:1.

To draw a line on a sheet consisting of 5mm circles set the Scale factor to 5.

Note: Line Styles pre-date V8i’s Annotation Scale features so Line Styles cannot be scaled automatically.

Create all variations of points at the same time for consistency, such as the fire compartment text shown above.

Think about the spacing at which the symbols will be placed then create the appropriate Stroke Patterns. If the Line Style is only going to display the point symbol (so no dashes) the stroke pattern will include only gaps, one gap per symbol (sized to match the symbol) and one gap for the gap between the symbols.

Fixed Size Line Styles

For a line style that represents a physical feature that must not change in size tick the Physical option in the Line Style Editor Edit menu. This will prevent the Global Line Style Scale and the Annotation Scale factors from being applied:


To create a line of open squares:

First create the Point Symbol. This is a 1mm square, the size is selected to make subsequent scaling easy.

Draw a 1mm square

In the Line Style Editor’s Components list scroll down and select any Point item. This will change the lower part of the dialog to shown the options for Points. Note that the Create button is greyed out.

Select the square, click the Create button that became active once an element was selected, then enter the name ‘1mm Square Open’ and click OK.

Then select the symbol origin. AccuSnap does not operate automatically (because this process pre-dates AccuSnap) so set your snap to Centre then hold down Ctrl + Shift to turn AccuDraw on. Snap to the centre of the 1mm square that you just drew:

The Status Bar will show ‘Symbol added to line style library’, the square is now ready to use within a Point Component.

Click the Select button to see the available symbols, ‘1mm Square Open’ will now be listed.

We want the squares to be spaced with 1mm gaps between the squares so a Base Stroke Pattern needs to be added to set this spacing. The stroke will be ‘Gaps at 1mm’ consisting …2 x 1mm gaps, one gap for the symbol, one to be empty!

In the Line Style Editor > Edit menu > Create > Stroke Pattern, replace the text ‘new stroke component’ with ‘Gaps at 1mm’ and set the values as shown:


Note the two Strokes, each 1mm long, both set with Length = Fixed, Stroke Type = Gap.

As both are Gaps nothing is shown in the preview (the empty black box).

Now we need a Point Component that contains the square.

In the Line Style Editor > Edit menu > Create > Point

Replace ‘new point component’ with the new name, ‘1mm Square Open’, a Point Component can contain one or more Point Symbols.

The next step is to connect the Point Symbol to the Stroke pattern.

With the new Point Component selected click the Base Stroke Pattern button then from the list highlight ‘Gaps at 1mm’.

This will now be shown as active:

Click on the first gap in the stroke pattern, select 1mm Square Open and click OK.

Setting the various parameters as shown here is a good start point.

Colour and Weight are set to Element so they pick up the active attributes of the Element being placed (they can be set to use the Colour and weight of the original symbol).

Partial is set to None, and Clip Partial is off to prevent the cropping of the square at corners.

Justify is set to Centre so the squares are centred on the element being drawn.

Rotation is Relative so the squares align with the element being drawn. The effect of Rotation Absolute is shown on the right.

Now we need the Name. This will appear in the list of available Line Styles and must be linked to the Point Component.

In the Line Style Editor > Edit menu > Create > Name. Enter the name in the lower Styles field where it says Unnamed.

Finally, the Name needs to be Linked to the Point Component. Highlight the name and the Point as shown then Line Style Editor > Edit menu > Link.

Save the Line Style library as when finished (and as you go along) with File menu > Save. Line Styles are saved in binary resource files ending in .rsc.
If Line Styles are project specific the project Configuration File may need to be altered to include your library.
Line Styles can be stored in .dgnlib files but cannot be edited in them. There has to be an .rsc file for creation and editing of line styles.

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