Using SOLIDWORKS Sketch Ink in Your Workflow

Article by Ben Crisostomo, CSWE updated August 5, 2019


I’ve always used a tablet ever since I took my first graphics arts class back in high school.  I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool over the years, helping me with the creative process. When I found out that SOLIDWORKS has integrated tools that work with tablets, I had to give it a try. With Sketch Ink, users can draw out their sketches and convert them into sketch entities when ready. So let us get into using SOLIDWORKS Sketch Ink in your workflow.

My Tablet Setup

For my session, I used a Wacom Cintiq Pro 13. The Cintiq line is great because it has a built-in display that interacts with the stylus and having SOLIDWORKS directly on my drawing screen made it easy to navigate with the pen and shortcut keys on the side of the tablet. The pressure sensitivity that Wacom is known for is there, but SOLIDWORKS has not utilized it yet. Using the pressure sensitivity creatively is something I can see them building on in future updates.



Getting Started with Sketch Ink

I decided to test out Sketch Ink on a dog house that I was building. I wanted to add a window with curved design elements on it to the main section of the door using only the tablet & stylus. Below are the tools that are part of the Sketch Ink Tab’s arsenal.

Sketch Ink Features

Figure 1: Sketch Ink Features

The Shape & Sketch entity functions require further discussion. The Shape buttons take your initial sketch and clean up the lines to look more like geometric elements; e.g., arcs, lines. The Entities button converts the sketches into workable sketch entities. Toggling on the Auto buttons converts your sketch as you draw, while the Update buttons allow you to update your sketches when ready manually.

Sketch Ink Features 2

Figure 2: Manually Added Features

It is also worth noting that other features are available in Sketch Ink, as seen above. These functions were manually added to the Sketch Ink tab. I found the Convert to Spline tool was useful when I was not happy with the Auto Shape outcome.

After using the SOLIDWORKS on a tablet, I found that the setup that worked best for me was to keep Auto Shape on, then use Update to Entities when I completed sketching.

Sketch Ink Sketches

Figure 3: Lines May Autosnap

I did notice that when sketching with Auto Sketch on, The line auto snaps, as seen above. Zooming in close would alleviate this, and moving forward, I would zoom in as much as I could before starting a sketch.

A feature that I found useful was the ability to add dimensions by selecting a sketch entity and then writing down the number, as seen below. Writing dimensions saved me a lot of time compared to switching hands to type on the number pad. I did notice, however, that I was not able to edit dimensions afterward.

Sketch Ink dimensions

Figure 4: Writing in Dimensions

I also found that adding relations was fast with the aid of my tablet buttons, though it did take a little bit of time to get accustomed to it. In the end, I was able to make the modifications to the door, as seen below.

Tablet Dimensioning

Figure 5: Final Outcome

Sketch Ink is a great tool to use to write an idea down, kind of like when you are hit with that spark of genius at a coffee shop, and all you have is a napkin. Though there is a bit of a learning curve, using a tablet can also improve productivity once you get accustomed to the environment. With the right tablet, Sketch Ink can be a great tool in your arsenal. I can’t wait to see where SOLIDWORKS takes this tool in the future!

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Ben Crisostomo

Ben is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office