SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer Sketching [VIDEO Series 2 of 4]

Article by Dimos Siagoulis updated June 30, 2015


Welcome back everyone! In part 1, we became familiar with  SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design, and learned how to navigate around it. For those that participated in the contest and would like to compare results with me, please click the show contest button.
[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show Contest” less_text=”Hide Contest”]

Thank you for participating. I ended up creating a shovel starting out with a cylinder.


My goal was to use as little features as I could, to replicate what a beginner might do. With only a cylinder freeform, I was able to drag mesh points, subdivide faces and extrude faces to produce this shape.


The handle was created fairly easily, just a few simple extrude faces and a bridge to close it off. Once the general shape was finished, I dragged and rotated various mesh points, then finally sharpened some edges to make the handle more visually appealing.


The shovel head was more tricky and it would have been easier to make by creating a sketch, converting it to freeform and combining the blade to the handle. That was not the goal however, so we shaped it by dragging mesh points and extruding faces. I definitely recommend starting off by trying to create shapes using only the original freeform shape and shaping it accordingly because it gives you a basis on what you can and what you can’t do easily with freeform, so that you can find quicker ways to do things in the future.

Try to remember that having too many loops is not always a good thing, if you’d like more precision and sharper edges its smart to add more mesh points, however, you can try using the subdivide faces tool as it might actually be better. Like I said above, it’s all about experimenting and becoming familiar with how the software works. Once you play around with it for a while and get used to it you’ll develop your own methods on how you’d like to do things; there’s always multiple ways to produce  the end product.


That’s it for last blog’s contest, don’t forget to join on this next one whose theme is going to be sketches.


SWID Sketching Tips

One of the most amazing aspects of SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer is its sketching capabilities. The three main types of sketches are Contour sketches, Concept sketches and 3D sketches. In this blog we will review the tools for creating sketches as well as ways to speed up your sketching.

Freehand sketching

  • Concept Curve: allows you to freely draw the sketch and anything you draw will be black meaning it is only in the background, you cannot actually do anything with these lines until you convert them into a contour. Think of them as guide lines.
  • Contour Curve: draws blue lines that can be used to create geometry.
  • Convert to Contour: converts your Concept Curve (Guide lines) into blue Contour Curve lines (Geometry lines).

Traditional sketching

  • Parametric Sketches: The Line, Rectangle, Circle and Arc features inside the Sketch tab are useful if you wanted to create specific and accurate geometry.
  • Insert Sketch Picture: is useful when you want to trace a blueprint. if you have top, bottom, side, front and rear views you can use the create sketch plane feature in conjunction with this and align the pictures to each corresponding plane, when you sketch over the pictures and hide or remove them, you’ll end up with all views of the object you are trying to create, making it much easier to mold in freeform.

3D Sketching

  • Sketch Off Surface: (located on the top right beside deactivate sketch and undo all sketch changes) can be used to create 3D sketches. This is a tricky tool to become familiar with. Basically after you have a few sketches in various planes or axis you can begin using this to connect them to each other in 3D. A triad will appear and you need to specify which direction you are sketching in, then you can begin sketching. An alternative way to change the drawing axis with this tool is by pressing Q.
  • Transform sketch entity: used to move or rotate your sketch.
  • Create new sketch plane: is a great tool to project the X Y & Z planes away from the axis, should you require two Y planes 20 cm offset from each other this is the tool to do that.

Tools to investigate on your own

  • The following tools are self explanatory, or for a quick explanation press F1 with your mouse over the button: Delete, Trim, Eraser, Dimension, Sketch Fillet, Sketch Mirror, Reflect, Split,  Boolean Sketch Object and Sketch Offset

With these tools you will be able to create any type of sketch that you want. One best practice I recommend is starting out with a concept sketch, as long as the sketch will help guide you when you create your object then it is okay.

Next Steps – Create a Freeform Object

So you’ve drawn your sketches and are ready to move onto your freeform object. There are two methods that can be used, both are right but learning how to use both will maximize your efficiency in creating concept designs. Try them both out and you will learn the pros and cons for each method, as well as the optimal time to use either method.

Method 1: Manipulating a standard freeform object

Simply add the desired shape and manipulate the freeform object by playing with the mesh cages and extruding faces as needed.

Method 2: Extruding a Sketch

Depending on the complexity of the design, you might choose to extrude the sketch, creating your own freeform object. To do so, you’ll want to create a closed Contour Curve of your desired object, then go to the freeform tab and click Extrude on the contour. Make sure that your contour is closed or you will only extrude the sketch’s profile, and not a solid body. From here, you can manipulate your object to match the concept sketch in the background. Do note that when creating a freeform object from a sketch, it won’t turn out looking exactly like your sketch, it will be more rounded in order to continue with the c2 continuous curvature. When using this method I suggest making a simplified contour of the object you are trying to create, then when the freeform is ready, manipulate the mesh into your desired positions, to align with the concept sketch.

Your SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer Sketch Challenge

To end off this post, I’d like to propose a second contest: I would like everyone to use both methods stated above to create either the same object, or two different objects, this will give you a feel for which technique should be used where in order to help you with creating objects more efficiently in the future.

Example of a freeform manipulated object

Freeform Sketch drawing using Concept Curves

Freeform Sketch drawing using Concept Curves

Parameters of this contest: There must be a concept sketch for both methods, at least one on each axis, if you do this you need to view the object from above (or below), from either side and from the front (or back) with as much detail as possible, so when you rotate your screen you get a different view of your proposed object.

hint: If you are making the same object twice, it’s probably a good idea to finish the sketches then export one copy, rename it and import it again so you have two copies. That way you don’t have to make the sketches twice.

Get a Free Trial of SWID

If you or your company are interested in a free trial of SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer software,visit our web page and complete the form to request a trial. NOTE: We can only provide trial copies to Canadian individuals and companies.


On behalf of Javelin Technologies I thank you for taking an interest in SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer, if there are any questions please leave a comment and I’ll reply as soon as possible, thank you!

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Dimos Siagoulis

Co-op student from McMaster University on my second work term at Javelin Technologies Inc.