I appreciate a good zombie monkey. They’re a rarity and usually make for better sport than other types of chronically drooling, undead monkeys.

So, if you’re like me, it’s pretty obvious that you may want to create some usable data from a 2D drawing or graphic of a zombie monkey. Maybe you want to create a logo for your title block or maybe you want to grab the profile to start a model. You can do it in SolidWorks, and really… it couldn’t be easier.

Creating Vector data in SolidWorks using Sketch Picture

Don’t make that brainpan pop. What you’re really doing here is simply creating splines (vector data) from an image (raster data). Vector data is scalable, raster data is not. As the vector data is splines, in this case, you can also manipulate and adjust them.

We’ll use the image of our zombie monkey friend and we’ll use the Sketch Picture tool (Tools, Sketch Tools, Sketch Picture…) to grab the data from the image. For any image you use, it helps to have one which has clearly distinguishable colors and/or lines. To start grabbing the edges, there’s one thing you need to do first.

Turn on the Autotrace add-in
If you’ve tried to convert images to edges before, you may not have known about this add-in. You’ll need to turn it on for the options in the Sketch Picture property manager to show up. Go to Tools, Add-ins. It should be near the bottom of the list.

Import your Image
To import an image into SolidWorks use the Sketch Picture command. You can find it in Tools, Sketch Tools, Sketch Picture… Your image will be located with the lower left corner at the origin and you’ll be brought into the Sketch Picture property manager.

Grab the raster
Using one of the Selection Tools under Trace Settings, grab the colors or areas that you want SolidWorks to automatically recognize. In our zombie monkey example, I’m using the color selector to select blocks of color. You can hold down shift to select multiple blocks of color. A tick mark will show up at each location you pick.

Convert the edges
Once you have the colors or areas selected, hit the Apply button at the bottom to convert the edges. The sliders above the Apply button will adjusts your selection real time. This is where you can improve the edge selection.

Zombie monkey vector goodness
That’s it. Hit the green check mark and you now have sketch data you can work with, manipulate or use as a reference.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.