Using Sketch Colors to Improve Design Intent Visibility in SOLIDWORKS
One of the best tools you can use to learn the design intent behind someone’s designs, is the SOLIDWORKS Part Reviewer. The Part Reviewer tool can be used to review how parts are created feature by feature. This tool works similar to how you would use the Rollback Bar in the Feature Manager Design Tree, but makes it a little easier. If you are interested in learning more about this tool, you can find more information in this blog post by Roger Ruffin. And if you are looking to try it out yourself, you can find it on the far right of the Evaluate toolbar.
Now colors are another way to help show others how your part was designed. And knowing how a part is designed can certainly help with downstream modifications and major design changes. One place I use colors is with my features. I add color to features to show where there are cut operations or fillets for example, as seen below.
Another good use of colors is with your sketch features. Here I use colors to convey design intent to my colleagues as well as let me visualize my own designs a little better. Now the first thing we could do is change the colors of all Inactive sketches, as seen in the images below. This allows me to see the sketches much better, as opposed to the typical gray sketch that is hidden by the typical gray part. You can find this setting under Options, System Options, Colors. Then, within the Color Scheme Settings window, simply scroll down to ‘Sketch, Inactive’ and select Edit.
Now taking this a step further, and to improve design intent visibility, I will apply different colors to my different sketches. I will typically use one color for the different boss features, and then another color for all the cut features. To change the color to the individual sketches, simply right click (RMB) on the sketch and select Sketch Color from the shortcut menu. Below you will see where I used 3 different colors, red, green, and blue, for the boss features, and a single color, yellow, for all the cut features.
Now before I save my part off to my SOLIDWORKS Product Data Management (PDM) vault, I will actually SHOW all my sketches in the Feature Manager Tree. However, I will then hide them using the Hide/Show Items button from the Heads-Up View toolbar, as seen in the image below. This way, the next person to open this part can quickly toggle that same button and see all of the colorful sketches at once. They will then be able to sit back and get a good overall view of how I put this design together.
So hopefully, these tools and tips are new to you and can give you a better idea on how to best utilize them. Have a great day, and we will see you in the next post.
Sr. Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology