Wednesday October 1, 2014 at 11:44am
The Autotrace feature within SOLIDWORKS allows you too quickly and easily create complex sketches from an imported image which can subsequently be used in features such as extrudes and sweeps or exported as DXF/DWG files. This can be a great way to quickly replicate a logo or organic shape.
The Autotrace feature within SOLIDWORKS allows you too quickly
and easily create complex sketches from an imported image which can
subsequently be used in features such as extrudes and sweeps or exported as DXF/DWG
files. This can be a great way to quickly replicate a logo or organic shape.
To activate the Autotrace functionality within SOLIDWORKS go
to tools>add-ins. Tick the check
box next to “Autotrace” (if this
feature is something you might use regularly, you can also check the box to the
right which will activate the Autotrace add-in on start-up).
within a sketch, use the “sketch picture”
command (tools>sketch tools>sketch
picture) to insert an image into the sketch environment. For this example
we will use a simple panda image
the “properties” controls to scale and position the image on the sketch plane
as required. Once positioned click the “next” arrow to begin tracing your
Choose one of the four tracing tools (rectangular, free
hand, polygonal, colour). In this instance we use the colour tool for tracing
(For best results with this tool try to use images with sharp colour contrast)
With the colour trace tool
selected, click on an area of the image you want to trace around, then push the
begin trace button. A sketched line is traced around the selected region
(SOLIDWORKS identifies the contrast in colour from the image to define this
region). You can fine-tune the sketch profile by adjusting the “colour tolerance” and “Recognition tolerance” sliders.
you are happy with the traced sketch, hit “Apply”.
You can repeat the process, selecting several regions from the image to
complete the tracing. Click “OK”
once you’re tracing is complete. If required you can edit the profile of the
traced sketch using the standard sketch tools. We now have a traced sketch
around the silhouette of the image.
Using a boss extrude feature we can extrude the sketch
profile away from the sketch to give our 3D model (for this example select each
region from the sketch in the selected contours box).
We could also use the sketch to produce an extruded cut to
make a profile in a sheet metal part.
There are times where autotrace does not provide an accurate enough outline, particularly when more complicated images are involved. If this is the case then the best option is usually to trace the image using splines and other sketch elements, this short video demonstrates the process.
Written: October 2014, Nick Jones Updated: June 2021, Aaron Moore