color-swatches.jpgWhoa there buddy, I think you’re getting carried away with all of those colors. That much color is certainly not per procedures and we’re gonna have to beat you black and white.

It happens, I know. You want an accurate color for your model and you can’t help but spend hours dragging your cursor through the Color Properties to get just the right shade of used-wet-gasket-red or brushed-aluminum- anodized-gray. It’s affecting the way you work and driving you insane. There’s a better way.

swx-color-properties.jpgCreate a New Swatch
When you edit the color of a document you have a set of properties that show up in the PropertyMananger. In the favorites section there’s a pulldown that has several preset swatches. You can use those or click the button to the left to create a new one. By default it saves a swatch.sldclr to your My Documents directory, but you can name it and save it where ever you want.

Add the Colors
Now, if you’re trying to get a particular color it’s hard to drag the cursor around the color properties section and get exactly what you’re looking for. What you can do is edit the swatch.sldclr file you created by simply adding hex color code. Here’s the steps.

  1. Open swatch.sldclr in a text editor (Wordpad)
  2. Copy the following code after the line that has opening tag </ColorSwatch>
    <Color RGB=”ffc0c0″>
    <Optical />
  3. Change the 6-digit number for RGB to whatever hex code you want (see below for ways of finding these.)
  4. Do the above two steps for all the colors you desire.
  5. Make sure there is a </ColorSwatch> on the last line.

For example
I want a color palette of some colors my favorite tattoo graphic artist, Dave Quiggle uses. I used PhotoShop to grab the color and copy the Hex code. Here’s the example file.

Download Josh’s SolidWorks Tattoo Color Swatch

It’s a roundabout way of adding the colors, but it’s a lot quicker than putting the value in the Color Properties. Hopefully SolidWorks will add a color picker or a Hex code entry field. Odd that it’s coded that way in the file but split up in the properties.

If you’re looking for ideas on color palettes check out ColourLovers or Adobe Kuler. You can also use the online ColorSchemer to get hex color codes.


Josh is founder and editor at, 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.