SOLIDWORKS Autotrace Tool Tutorial

Article by Nick Stanley on Jul 19, 2023

The SOLIDWORKS Autotrace tool is an add-in that can help users quickly create 3D objects from an imported picture. The 3D logo below was created using this tool. 

SOLIDWORKS Autotrace Tool Used to Create 3D Logo

How to Access Autotrace

Access the Autotrace feature by enabling it in Add-Ins.

Activate SOLIDWORKS Autotrace Tool via Add-Ins

Checking the left check box will activate Autotrace. Checking the right check box will automatically launch it on start up. 

How to Use Autotrace

To start, open a blank new document. 

Open New SOLIDWORKS Document

Then, select which plane you want to begin with and start a new Sketch.

Start New SOLIDWORKS Sketch

On the menu bar, select Tools Sketch Tools Sketch Picture...

Sketch Picture Option in SOLIDWORKS Tools Menu

Select the sketch image you want to import from the File Explorer window and select Open. The sketch picture will import into the selected plane.

SOLIDWORKS Autotrace Sketch Picture

With the Autotrace add-in turned on, notice that there is now a "next arrow" in the Sketch Picture dialog. 

Here, we can use intelligent tools to automatically select the outline of the logo.

Next Arrow SOLIDWORKS Sketch Picture

In this case, we'll primarily use the Trace Selection tools.

SOLIDWORKS Trace Setting Selection Tools

Let's start by using the rectangle selection tool to select most of the image in a single go.

SOLIDWORKS Rectangle Selection Tool

The result of the initial selection is decent, but it looks like it needs some refinement as we are getting some odd artifacts on the DS selection of the logo.

Using Selection Tools in SOLIDWORKS

To adjust the selection, use the aptly named adjustments section. In this case, we'll use the Recognition tolerance to fix up these lines.

Recognition Tolerance Levels in SOLIDWORKS

Next, click the Apply button to set the selection as permanent. This can be useful as it will allow us to select more from the image. As you can see, the inside loop of the O didn’t get selected.

SOLIDWORKS Sketch Picture Apply Button

Using the dropper selection tool, choose a point in the center of the O and select Begin Trace, repeating until everything is selected.

Begin Trace in SOLIDWORKS

The tool will take care of the bulk of the selection very quickly, but the tool isn’t perfect and will often need refining such as this resulting sketch on the D.

Using SOLIDWORKS Autotrace

While the tool will quickly take care of the bulk of the selection, it isn't perfect and can require some refining. (Shown on the letter D below)

After editing the sketch and removing any odd portions, the result will be a complete sketch that can be extruded.

Extrude SOLIDWORKS Sketch

Now that we have our sketch, we can select the extrude feature and produce the 3D extruded logo.

Boss-Extrude SOLIDWORKS Sketch

I hope you found this SOLIDWORKS Autotrace tool tutorial helpful. Check out more SOLIDWORKS tips and tricks below. 



Our SOLIDWORKS CAD Cheat Sheet, featuring over 90 tips and tricks, will help speed up your process.



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About Nick Stanley

Nick Stanley is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Specialist at GoEngineer.

View all posts by Nick Stanley