Creating Custom Appearances in SOLIDWORKS

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated October 3, 2022

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Have you ever designed the perfect SOLIDWORKS model and then you go to add finishing touches, like a nice appearance so you can show your model off, but when you go into the appearances task pane, the appearance you are looking for can’t be found?

Worry no more, because in this blog I am going to be showing you how you can add your very own custom appearances in SOLIDWORKS as seen with the cardboard and styrofoam appearances below.

Cardboard Appearance

Cardboard Appearance

Find and SOLIDWORKS Appearance file

The first step in this process is to find the specific appearance you are looking for. To do this, you can either search for the appearance on the web as an image, search for the appearance on the web as a “.p2m” file, or you can even take a photo using your phone and upload the image as an appearance. In this blog, I will be showing you the method of finding an appearance as an image online.

First, we will start off with just the SOLIDWORKS default appearance for our box and mold.

SOLIDWORKS default appearance

SOLIDWORKS default appearance

In this example, I am going to be looking for the cardboard appearance. Simply go to Google images and search cardboard texture, appearance, or any other phrase you believe will yield good results for an appearance. Tip: If you navigate to Tools and then Size, by selecting Large Format, you will get more high-quality images for a better all-around appearance.

Google cardboard texture results

Google cardboard texture results

NOTE: Please pick an image that is royalty free, or purchase an image from a stock image website such as Adobe Stock.

Once you chose an image, save the image to a new folder you have created somewhere on your drive. I recommend making a new folder titled something along the lines of custom appearances.

Save texture image

Save texture image

Add SOLIDWORKS Appearance File

Next, go to your Display Manager, Right click and then add appearance. After that, navigate to the Advanced tab at the top of the window and select it.

Select appearance image file

Select appearance image file

Then go to Color/Image and select Browse…

From there navigate to the new folder you created and go down to the file type drop down and select “All Files”. The cardboard image I saved now appears there. Select it and click Open.

You will then be prompted to save the cardboard image as a .p2m file, the file type appearances are saved as. Click save in the same folder.

creating custom appearances in solidworks - Save as .p2m file

Save as .p2m file

Once you click save, a window will appear asking if you would like this folder to appear in your appearances folder in the task pane. Select Yes.

Make folder visible

Make folder visible

You can now add the cardboard appearance to the part.

Adjusting SOLIDWORKS Appearance

You will notice that the cardboard appearance does not fit the part file as expected. From here, you can simply navigate to the mapping tab of advanced appearances and adjust the size and orientation of the appearance so that it fits as expected. You can also drag the size window on the graphics screen till you are pleased with the results.

SOLIDWORKS Appearance Mapping

SOLIDWORKS Appearance Mapping

You can now freely add to the new custom appearance folder you created and access these appearances from the appearance folder in the task pane allowing for an even more accurate model.

 

Cardboard appearance

Cardboard appearance applied

Learn more about SOLIDWORKS Appearance

Want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Appearance and Display States? Take our SOLIDWORKS Assembly Modeling training course live online.

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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.