Your SolidWorks drawings are standing out in the open like a very large and overly dressed target of 3D ninja violence. Hey, I’m just sayin. It’s actually a secret society of defected and very agitated ANSI and ISO standard authors that have passed this info on to me.

Your fancy drawing is filled with more views than you can throw a 6-pointed shuriken at and that is exactly what we’re going to do, but real secret ninja-like. PREPARE TO WITNESS, the 5 ninjas to unveil a righteous fury upon your drawings.

From Bad to Worse
One issue with 3D CAD drawings, in general, that continues to confuse me is how a drawing can be more complicated than an 2D AutoCAD drawing. That’s crazY, with a capital Y and a lowercase c-r-a-z.

Logically, if you have a 3d model, you would think there would be fewer drawing views because the 3D allows you to show which angle or section best represent the build of the part or assembly. So why do we fill drawings with redundant views and information? I don’t know. Because we can, I imagine.

More drawing views, however, do not always make things more clear. So, let’s take a look at how we can reduce them to make drawings look a little smarter and not be targeted by death-starved ninja warriors.

Combine Isometric Views (Quiet Death)
No one will even know it hit them. Seriously. We can put so many isometric views on a drawing so quick. What are they doing though? Here’s my challenge for you. If you have multiple Isometric Views on a drawing, try to combine them into one. Do it by:

  • using an exploded Isometric view
  • creating specific details
  • trying different angle

One Sheet Drawings (Precision Kill)
I love these. Not only from doing them, but from having to check drawings. When you check drawings it makes you look at the amount of information on a drawing through a whole new ninja mask. I’ve nearly sent drawings back, just because of the page count. Instead, I take a blade to it and dissect it, showing the creator how to make a better drawing.

You don’t have to try and stick everything on one sheet. Don’t crowd everything on and make views so small they’re illegible either. People will try to strangle you if you do. Use these instead, to reduce the sheets:

  • Lay out main views on one sheet
  • Create specific detail views for any detail that is missing… on subsequent sheets if necessary
  • If a drawing views has very few annotations or callouts try moving them to another view

Split Drawings (Katana Blade)
You’ve may have heard it or seen it. “If we put all the parts and assemblies on one drawing we won’t have to revise so many drawings.” That is just… hmm, askin’ for the razor-sharp blade of purity. I’ll stay away from revision control arguments. Split the drawings up and make them more manageable. Here’s some ways you can start.

  • One assembly per drawing and detail only items in that assembly
  • Separate by build sequence or workflow – Shop, Finish, Assembly
  • If you must have all on one drawing, try one assembly or part per sheet

Layered Views (Stealth Slaughter)
I really want SolidWorks to add layered view functionality – ‘slaughter’ terminology optional. I’ve done a tip on layering SolidWorks drawing views. It’s basically laying one view on top of another view to combine details of both. By doing this you can:

  • Provide clarity for an assembly
  • Show better interaction between components
  • reduce the number of views

solidworks layered drawing view

Create Cutaways (Smoke Escape)
I create these in the model occasionally to show very specific information about an assembly, but you can also create them to make a much cleaner drawing. Think of those engine cut-aways that slice just a little bit out of the engine block to show the piston. Additionally, if you’re having trouble getting just the right section view, this can save a lot of frustration. Try to:

  • Cut away any part or assembly there for reference
  • Set up planes for a better location to make a cut
  • Use multiple cuts in the model

If we’re really using 3D CAD to create better products, we really shouldn’t need to do so with more complicated drawings. We can have more detail, but we are either trying to show how to construct something or how to check it for quality. If a drawing view is not doing one or both of those things, it’s existence on that fine drawing of yours needs to be considered and you may just end up putting that ninja mask on one more time to take care of business.

Do these make sense? Are there any you would like get into a little more? It would be interesting to hear you’re stories about how your drawings changed after moving to SolidWorks.


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.