SolidWorks: Creating Basic Sketches

Perception Engineering is a West-Michigan firm that focuses on providing exceptional solutions for our customers' engineering requirements. All of our Engineers and CAD Designers hold a Professional Mechanical Design certification and are continuing their education in machine design and other areas in the Engineering field. The team has created the PE Learning Blog to give back and provide solutions in the Engineering field for those who need it.


Congratulations! SolidWorks has found its way onto your computer. Now you’re ready to take the first steps to becoming an expert CAD designer. A few things that you should know first before taking the reins on any project in SolidWorks is how to properly sketch. Sketches are the basics to almost all features in SolidWorks and a key to being an expert CAD designer. 

* Creating a Sketch

* Defining a Sketch


The first steps to creating a sketch are easy, in fact, it's a simple click of the mouse; however, the orientation and flow of the model needs to be planned out. Before any sketch can be started a Front, Top, or Right Plane must be selected. This is important and specific to each model for starting off on a bad orientation could cause problems in the future. These problems will be seen when the 3D model is being converted to a 2D drawing. In general, a good practice is to have the face with the most features and least amount of hidden lines as the Front View. The top and right will derive off the Front view accordingly.


Figure 1: View Orientation

Almost all features in SolidWorks derive from sketches. Sketches are the backbone of any 3D models and must be properly defined otherwise the 3D model could unknowingly change. SolidWorks has provided many ways to create a sketch, but the most basic is through the sketch tab. For this tutorial, the top view will be used to create the base of the model.


Figure 2: Starting a Sketch


The most complicated geometry can be created with two sketch tools: lines and circles. These two commands can create any shape with proper design techniques and defining dimensions. The shape of a bottle opener will be sketched with the commands. To start, the origin must be attached to the model for dimensional purposes. A good practice is having the sketch origin located in the lower left corner or the center depending on the desired part. In the case of our bottle opener, the origin will be set in the center of a circle. 


Figure 3: Circle Sketch

The circle created was centered on the origin, so the sketch will not move around. The next steps to creating the geometry for a bottle opener is creating the handle and bottle lip. CAD modeling has many techniques to create the same product. In the case of a simple sketch as a bottle opener, a good practice is to get the outline first then go back and define the geometry.


Figure 4: Creating Geometry


The general idea of a bottle opener has been created: shape, function, and size can all be changed with adding dimensions and sketch relation as seen in our How to Define Sketches blog. The last component to create a working sketch is to have only a single closed loop. A closed loop is defined by the contours of the sketch, this is seen in Figure 4 in each one of the circles. Looking closely, there is a shade of blue on the inside. This blue indication tells the user a closed contour is present. To ensure the whole drawing is a closed contour, the Trim Entities Command will be used.


Figure 5: Trim Entities

The options associated with Trim Entities are completely customizable, but I have had the most success with the Power trim option. This enables a swift drag of the mouse to trim any sketch in its path. No hassle, just click and drag. 


Figure 6: Power Trim

The line will trim at the intersection point indicated with a red dot. Once a single contour of the sketch has been formed, in this sketch the two circles needed to be trimmed, the sketch will become blue tinted similar to the circles shown in Figure 4. This indicates the sketch is fully closed and ready to move onto creating features.

That’s all for now! You now know how to create basic sketches and trim excess lines. If you like the content or have questions signup for our email list to fill out a contact card or to receive our weekly blog.

Written By:

Brenden DeVries

Brenden DeVries

Engineering Co-op at Perception Engineering