How to Use Layers in SOLIDWORKS Drawings

Article by Nathen Blas on Dec 14, 2021

In this guide, we explain how to use layers in SOLIDWORKS drawings. In general, layers are used to control visibility, line color, thickness, and type for any of your annotations.

Layers can also be used when importing or exporting .dwgs/.dxfs. When importing a .dwg, you can see all of the custom layers used in SOLIDWORKS or another 2D application.

Importing Layer Options in SOLIDWORKS

Figure 1: Import layer options

Layers in SOLIDWORKS have more functionality than that. If you right-click your CommandManager and select the Layers option, it will turn on the Layers toolbar. You will see this in the bottom left-hand side of the screen.

SOLIDWORKS Layer Menu Activation

Figure 2: Activating Layer menu

By default, you will have three choices:

  • -Per standard-  will reference the document properties. 
  • -None-   is general and references the system options. 
  • FORMAT  is everything on the sheet format.

Default SOLIDWORKS Layer Options

Figure 3: Default layer options

Layers can be used in SOLIDWORKS to create specific types of annotations. In this example, we are making one for center marks. To do this, click the Layers button to display the Layers menu.


Figure 4 : Layers menu

Click  New  to add a new layer and give it a name. You can change different options for the items on this layer, such as color, style, and thickness. You can also turn layers on and off to show only the ones you want. For this example, we are going to change the color to red. Click  OK  when finished to accept this new layer.

SOLIDWORKS Center Mark Layer

Figure 5: Center Mark layer

In the bottom left-hand side of SOLIDWORKS, you can see the active layer is the newly created layer. This means that after making a new layer, every new annotation you add to this sheet will be on this layer. 

If this is not what you intended, you can change it back to -None-. To add annotations to a layer, right-click on the annotation and select  Change Layer.

SOLIDWORKS Change Layer Option

Figure 6 : Change Layer

A drop-down will appear allowing you to choose the layer you want it to be moved to. In this example, the center marks are now red, matching the layer they are on. 

Center Mark Layer in SOLIDWORKS

Figure 7: Center Mark layer

Red Center Mark in SOLIDWORKS Drawing

Figure 8 : Red Center Mark

This workflow is manual and a bit tedious. Another option is a bit more automated, and that is the -per standard- option; you will never have to do it again after the initial setup. 

To do so, go to Tools > Option > Document Properties

Document Properties SOLIDWORKS Layers

Figure 9 : Document Properties

There is a list of annotation types and, in each tab of that list, you can link that dimension type to the corresponding layer. 

SOLIDWORKS Dimension Layer Assignment

Figure 10 : Dimension layer assignment

After setting these up, save as a document template that you can use with future SOLIDWORKS drawings. 

Now to reference these settings once again, in the bottom left-hand side, set the current layer to -Per Standard-. 

Per Standard SOLIDWORKS Layer Option

Figure11: -Per Standard-

To see using layers in SOLIDWORKS drawings in action, check out the video demonstration below.



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About Nathen Blas

Nathen Blas is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Engineer based out of our Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah in 2018 and joined the GoEngineer family that same year.

View all posts by Nathen Blas