Are you dedicated to creating your designs by hand? Whether it’s on a napkin or a sheet of paper, some people prefer to draw out their designs before starting it in SOLIDWORKS. In this blog, we’ll show an example of how to insert a picture and use it to create a 3D design.
We can create a 3D model from a picture by inserting it into a sketch in SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS is capable of inserting .bmp, .gif, .jpeg, .tif, .tiff, .wmf, .png, and .psd file types onto sketch planes, where you can then use the sketch tools to trace the geometry. Once the geometry has been traced, you can then fully define the sketch and use it in the same manner as any other sketches in SOLIDWORKS.
We’ll begin by starting a sketch on the Front Plane and inserting an image. To do this, go to Tools>Sketch Tools>Sketch Picture and select your image. In the Sketch Picture PropertyManager, a scale tool is available to control the scaling of the image. If the width or the height of the design is known, the scale tool can be used to make the image true-to-scale. For the image shown below, we’ll drag the endpoints of the scale tool to the position of the known dimension - in this case, the width of the gate. This activates the Modify toolbar, allowing us to assign a dimension to the on-screen scaling line. In this case, the width of the gate is 4 feet.
Additional tools are available to help translate or rotate the image to your liking. Additionally, the image can be dragged to the desired location in the graphics area to manually place it. In this case, we’ll position the picture so that the origin is coincident to the bottom center of the image.
Now that the image is scaled and positioned correctly, the available sketch tools can be used to create a sketch, tracing the image. As with any sketch in SOLIDWORKS, sketch relationships and dimensions can be added to fully define the geometry. Keep in mind, however, that the accuracy of the resulting sketch will be dependent on the quality and orientation of the image. Some adjustment may be necessary in order to get the geometry lined up precisely.
Once we’re done creating the sketch, features can be added as necessary to create the 3D model. For this particular example, we’re going to add Structural Members to our design, via the available Weldments tools.
Note: While a variety of weldment profiles are available in SOLIDWORKS by default, consider downloading complete libraries of profiles available in the SOLIDWORKS Content section of the Design Library if you frequently use weldments in SOLIDWORKS. Consider looking at our video on Weldment Profiles here for additional information.
By quickly and easily inserting an image as a sketch picture in SOLIDWORKS, we’re able to take our design from an image to a fully-featured model. Now, those of you who prefer beginning your ideas on paper can leverage those hand-drawn sketches or images to create SOLIDWORKS models from them. Additionally, if your images are typically simple and high-resolution, consider having a look at our video on the Autotrace command for sketch pictures here.