Using Colour & Layers to make SOLIDWORKS Drawing detail stand out

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated July 6, 2020


This article shows a trick for making your drawing dimensions and annotations stand out from the model edges in SOLIDWORKS using layers and colour.

In the next image, all model edges and dimensions are black except for a couple of driven dimensions from the Hole Wizard location sketches.

Monochrome drawing

Monochrome drawing

While the drawing might be acceptable as-is, some users find it easier to read when colour is used to distinguish annotations, dimensions, and the model from each other, like this:

SOLIDWORKS Drawing with colour annotations

SOLIDWORKS Drawing with colour annotations

Quite a difference, eh!  Even if the intent is to print/plot to greyscale instead of colour, use of colour can still be of benefit to the designer.  Darker colours are recommended as they plot well in greyscale.

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Here is the easy way to set and control the colours:

  1. Add the Layer toolbar: Tools > Customize > Toolbars > Layer.  Now add a few layers, give them a name, and set the colour.

    Added two new layers and assigned their colours

    Added two new layers and assigned their colours

  2. In the drawing, select all dimensions (press F5 to bring up the Selection Filter toolbar to to make that easier) and then from the Layer toolbar, select the appropriate layer.  This assigns the selected dimension or annotations to that layer.  When that happens, they inherit that layer’s colour.
  3. Repeat, for all annotations.
  4. To change the colour if desired, simply edit the layer’s colour and the entities assigned to that layer should automatically update.
  5. You will want to save those layer additions to your drawing templates.
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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.