Understanding Hierarchy of SOLIDWORKS Appearances

Article by Heather McHale on Feb 08, 2021

When working with SOLIDWORKS appearances, it is important to understand the order in which appearances are applied to the model. Let’s explore the appearances for this Mouse Trap Race Car.

Understanding Hierarchy of SOLIDWORKS Appearances

Existing Appearances

Existing appearances can be found in the FeatureManager Design Tree or DisplayManager. Here is an explanation of the appearance icons.

Related >> SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager: Hidden/Forgotten Commands

SOLIDWORKS Ball A ball icon indicates that a Color has been applied

SOLIDWORKS Square A square indicates that an image has been applied

SOLIDWORKS Part color/appearances being used in assembly The Parts color/appearance is being used at the assembly level

SOLIDWORKS Appearance Applied An appearance has been applied to the part at the assembly level

SOLIDWORKS Subassembly Appearance Applied An appearance has been applied to the subassembly at the assembly level.

We’ll start by exploring the FeatureManager Design Tree, which have I expanded to view the appearances within my assembly.

SOLIDWORKS Hierarchy FeatureManager Design Tree

To view the hierarchy of appearances, choose Hierarchy as the sort order. Components indicates appearances added at the assembly level.  

SOLIDWORKS Appearances DisplayManager

Let’s take a closer look at the part 'New Rail'.  Notice the appearances are different at the assembly level for each of the two instances of New Rail. The tree indicates there is an appearance applied at both the part and assembly level for the second instance, which is indicated with the split square icon. Assembly level appearances take precedence over all other component appearances in the assembly.

New Rail Example in SOLIDWORKS

The icon indicates that my part has an appearance of some type of wood at the assembly level, and a grey appearance at the part level. 

When I open the part, it does not appear grey, but rather wood, with a single grey face. Let’s explore further to discover why.

Applying Appearances in SOLIDWORKS

Looking at the DisplayManager for New Rail, there are four appearances applied to the part at different levels. The Hierarchy of this application is Assembly, Face, Feature, Body, Part.  

Understanding Hierarchy in SOLIDWORKS Appearances

Applying Appearances

When adding appearances, it is important to recognize what the appearance is being applied to. To add an appearance, select the desired appearance in the appearance tab of the TaskManager. Left drag onto the model and hover over what you would like to apply the appearance to. 

Select Face, Feature, Body, Part or Assembly from the selection bar.

Applying SOLIDWORKS Appearances Tutorial

You can also double-click on appearance to apply it to the part. If you are in an assembly, double-clicking on an appearance overrides all other appearances in the assembly. This is indicated with an icon next to the Assembly Icon, as seen here.

SOLIDWORKS Appearances Tutorial

Removing Appearances

To remove the New Rail Appearance override at the assembly level, left click on the appearance in the FeatureManager Design Tree and choose Remove Appearance.  

Removing Appearances in SOLIDWORKS

To remove all appearance overrides in the assembly, left-click in the Appearance column, next to the assembly name. Select Remove All Component Appearances.  If you would like to remove all Appearances from all levels of this assembly, choose Remove All Appearances

Note: This will remove Appearances at all file levels.

SOLIDWORKS Remove Appearances

SOLIDWORKS appearances are a great way to differentiate parts in an assemly, or to identify key features. Now you know how to navigate them efficiently.

Expand Your SOLIDWORKS Skillset

SOLIDWORKS Thumbnail Previews

SOLIDWORKS Cosmetic Thread View Options

 Best Workstation for SOLIDWORKS: Hardware Configurations

How to Copy SOLIDWORKS Custom Properties to Other Files

Customizing Colors in SOLIDWORKS Drawings


About Heather McHale

Heather McHale is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Engineer, Instructor, and Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert. Heather has over 13 years of design experience since earning her degree in Computer Aided Drafting from Kellogg Community College. Heather joined the VAR channel in 2017 first with DASI and now GoEngineer. Based out of western Michigan, Heather enjoys camping, hiking, and scrapbooking in her free time.

View all posts by Heather McHale