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Whether you’re embossing an image on your design or simply using images as a reference to get your design started, being able to trace images in a sketch is a very useful skill to have when working in SOLIDWORKS. Luckily, there’s an Autotrace function built directly into SOLIDWORKS Add-ins that can help you out with this in many cases!’
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. The first step is enabling the Autotrace add-in. To do this, simply go to Tools > Add-Ins or open the access the Add-Ins menu from the options drop-down as shown below.
Step 2. In the Add-Ins dialogue box, make sure that the box to the left of Autotrace is checked. If this is a functionality that you will be using often, you can also check the box to the right to automatically enable this add-in when you start up SOLIDWORKS each time.
Step 3. Create a new part (or open an existing part) and create a sketch on the face or plane where you want to trace the image.
Step 4. Insert a Sketch Picture from Tools > Sketch Tools > Sketch Picture’ and resize as necessary from the properties manager. Note: This feature works best with a high-contrast image similar to the turkey shown below.
Step 5. Before accepting the feature, click on the –> to continue the Sketch Picture command.
Step 6. Use the selection tools to specify the geometry that you want to trace and click on Begin trace. To trace the turkey, I used the color sampling tool as an easy way of selecting most of the black lines at once.
Step 7. Change the Adjustments settings until you are satisfied with the sketch preview shown in the graphics area.
Step 8. Click Apply to continue selecting geometry for tracing.
Note: Once you click Apply, the sketch elements that were created will change color (green, by default) and you will be able to repeat Steps 6-8 until the entire image has been outlined.
Step 9. Click OK to accept the trace and continue working on your part as usual (emboss, extrude, etc.)
Just like that, you’re finished! If you’ve ever traced an image manually in SOLIDWORKS, I’m sure you’ll agree that this functionality is lightning fast and truly something to be thankful for!