Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated March 29, 2016


See what I did there? I used Character Map to get a backwards R, then used symmetric letters to make the word MIRROR appear to be mirrored! What a complex process for such a simple trick. Thankfully, in SOLIDWORKS, the process can be delightfully simple. I have two methods for doing this in a sketch: Mirror or Dynamic Mirror. You can access both of these tools from the Tools > Sketch Tools menu:

Dynamic Mirror

Mirror Tools

Please keep in mind that Dynamic Mirror is not shown on the Sketch tab of the CommandManager by default. I highly suggest that you make use of the Command Search to drag and drop the command onto the Command Manager, though.


Let’s talk about the first one. The Mirror command is intended to be used on sketch entities that have already been created. If one of your sketch entities is a centre line, then lucky you: you can just window-select the whole bundle and run the Mirror command and SOLIDWORKS will take care of the rest! If you have more than one centre line, or don’t have any (because you are intending to mirror about a solid line), then you need to do a bit more work. Run the command first, then window-select the entities that you wish to mirror. Then select the pane for “Mirror about” and choose which entitiy you wish to mirror about. Don’t worry about duplication. If I was mirroring a square about one of the edges, then I could select all 4 lines to mirror, then as soon as I choose one of the lines to mirror about, it is automatically removed from the list of entities to mirror.

Dynamic Mirror

The second approach, Dynamic Mirror, is intended to be used while you are sketching. Start by sketching a centre line (or regular line if you prefer). Then, select the line and run the Dynamic Mirror command. You’ll barely notice that it is running aside from a double-tickmark at either end of your selected line, and the fact that the Dynamic Mirror command appears to be a pressed button. However, try sketching something. What you’ll find is that as you create sketched entities, they are automatically mirrored onto the other side. Amazing.

Dynamic Mirror Sketch

Dynamic Mirror Sketch

Here are three things to keep in mind as you are sketching:

  • If you draw a line that is perpendicular to the mirror line and ends coincident to the mirror line, the mirrored version will be merged. You will end up with a single line that had a sketched point in the middle.
  • If you draw a line that is perpendicular to the mirror line and it ends at the “mirrored” start point (such that the mirrored entity would completely overlap the original), SOLIDWORKS will tell you the it is “unable to create the symmetric element,” which protects you from accidentally creating overlapping lines.
  • If you draw a line that is perpendicular to the mirror line and it ends anywhere else but the aforementioned points, you will get partially overlapping lines. Try to avoid this as it can cause issues with certain features if left unchecked.

Learn more about Sketching

To gain more sketching skills like dynamic mirror we suggest taking our SOLIDWORKS Essentials course either in-class or online. Learn more about the course.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).