How to change the SOLIDWORKS Drawing background appearance

Article by John Lee, CSWP created/updated June 10, 2019

While model-based definition (MBD) is gaining momentum in industry, many companies currently rely on drawings, which brings us to this article.  Are you staring at SOLIDWORKS drawings a lot?  Ever wanted to spruce up those drawings for a bit of realism in the sheet’s appearance in your SOLIDWORKS session?  As if it were printed on actual paper?  Well, you can!

Included with SOLIDWORKS installations is the ability to set your SOLIDWORKS Drawing Background to appear in a more realistic way than the default colour set here:

Default Drawing sheet background settings (paper colour)

Default Drawing sheet background settings (paper colour)

The default setting results in the default sheet background appearance shown below:

Default sheet background as of 2019

Default sheet background as of 2019

Selecting an image background

Aside from the option of changing to a different colour, SOLIDWORKS currently installs with an optional sheet background image reminiscent of the days of drawing plotters that used ammonia in the plotting process.  If you zoom in far enough, you may notice the colour texture that might result from such a process.

Installed sheet background image as of 2019

Installed sheet background image as of 2019

In order to use this image, you must clear the checkbox shown in the settings above.  The effects should be immediate.

As another alternative, here is what your drawing might look like after being crinkled from use.  This is the image that used to ship with SOLIDWORKS installation files, in the days before the installation switched to the ammonia-process background shown above.  Some folks disliked the sheet background shown below, but I personally love it!  What can I say.

"Crinkled" background image from earlier SOLIDWORKS year versions

“Crinkled” background image from earlier SOLIDWORKS year versions

Applying a custom image background

In order to use a custom image background:

  1. Select an image file for your SOLIDWORKS Drawing Background (you can download the crinkled paper background shown above from here by clicking the Download button.  Do not right-click the image itself as that may not download the correct file).
  2. Browse to C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS 20yy\SOLIDWORKS\data\Images\drawings.
  3. Rename the file that is there.
  4. Copy your file into this location and ensure that it is named sheetbackgound1.bmp (do not modify the file extension, if shown).
  5. Ensure that the SOLIDWORKS settings have that checkbox CLEARED (shown earlier in this article).
  6. Restart SOLIDWORKS.
  7. Load or create a drawing.

Note: Whatever image you decide to use, it must be in bitmap format (*.bmp), in that folder, with that name, in order to be read by SOLIDWORKS.

Want to learn more about Drawings?

Attend a SOLIDWORKS Drawings training class either live online or in a Canadian city near you.

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John Lee, CSWP

John Lee is a CSWP with over a decade of experience using SOLIDWORKS. He is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. Efficiency and speed are of primary concern when he is teaching users how to get things done in SOLIDWORKS . With a background in Mechanical Engineering, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.

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