Inserting an image into a sketch in SOLIDWORKS

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated September 27, 2022


We can insert a picture into a sketch and use it as a background for creating 2D sketches in SOLIDWORKS. Multiple file formats are supported including .jpg, .tif, and .bmp, to name just a few.

In this example we have a picture of a guitar body we want to model.

Picture of a guitar body

We start a new sketch and insert the picture using the “Sketch Picture” command. Using the pulldowns, the command can be found at Tools > Sketch Tools > Sketch Picture. The bottom left corner of the picture is placed at the origin.

Using the sketch picture command

Using the sketch picture command

The picture needs to be sized and positioned. An easy way to size it is by using the scale tool. When the scale tool is checked on, a blue line is displayed on the image.

Scale tool

Drag the left end of the scale tool (pink circle) to a start position and the right end (pink arrow) to an end position and then type in what that distance should be.

Modify distance

Modify distance

Once it’s sized, left click on the image and drag it to position it relative to the origin.

Another way to size and position it (without using the scale tool) is to sketch something and dimension it. Sketch whatever makes sense – lines, circles, rectangles, etc. In this case we want the guitar body to be about 20 inches long, so I’ll sketch a single line segment and dimension it 20”.

sketch a single line segment

Sketch a single line segment

After sketching the line, insert the picture, and turn off “Enable scale tool.”

turn off "enable scale tool"

Turn off “enable scale tool”

To move the image, left click on it and drag it. To size it, left click on one of the corner points of the image border and drag it. With “Lock aspect ratio” checked (which is the default), it stays proportional.

When the image is positioned and sized, exit the sketch. Start a new sketch on the same plane and sketch over the picture.

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TriMech Solutions, LLC

TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. Javelin became a subsidiary of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.