SolidWorks Tutorials – First Sketch

SolidWorks Tutorials – First Sketch

Welcome back to our SolidWorks Tutorials for Beginners series. This is our seventh lesson, and in it we’ll take up our first sketch. To begin a sketch from the main SolidWorks screen, first you create a new part document. Click the New button at the top of the command manager:

Fig 01 – Click the New button to launch a new Solidworks document

Next, click Part from the New SolidWorks Document and click OK:


Fig 02 – The New SolidWorks Document window; click Part and OK.

You can also create sketches from within an Assembly document, but for this tutorial we’ll start from a part document.


Fig 03 – The status bar tells you that you’re in the part editing environment.

The window that opens provides the tools of the part editing environment. In the status bar at the bottom of the screen you see that you’re in Editing Part mode. If you don’t see the status bar, select View on the standard menu, scroll down, and select Status Bar from the list.

(Reminder: when items are checkmarked in the list of the View menu, they are visible to you in the SolidWorks interface. To hide items, you just select them again to uncheck them.) For more SolidWorks tutorials, please visit our website at, or our youtube channel at


Fig 04 – A blank new part document window.

By default SolidWorks takes us to the Sketch tab. On the command manager you can see a variety of sketching tools. The ones that are grayed out are not yet available; first you have to create some kind of entity–a line, shape, circle, etc., and then those tools currently grayed out will be available.

From this point, you can create a sketch in a few different ways. In the Feature Manager Design Tree (the left panel of the screen beside the graphic area), you see three planes pre-created for us: Front Plane, Top Plane, and Right Plane. There’s also a node on the tree for the Origin Point – that’s (Cartesian) coordinates 0,0 (zero, zero) on whichever two-dimensional plane you’re working on.

At the top of the tree you see Part 1. By default it’s called Part 1, because we haven’t yet saved it with any other name. As soon as we save it, that new name will appear beside the node.

When I mouse over the planes in the tree, they are highlighted in the graphic area, as shown below:


Fig 05 – Any item moused over in the design tree is highlighted in the graphic area so you can see it.

If you want the plane to stay visible in the graphic area, you right-click on it in the design tree, and click on the glasses icon; that’s the Show/Hide button:


Fig 06 – The “Show/Hide” button is accessed with a right-click on any node in the tree.

After this the plane will stay visible in the graphic area, and you can select it right in the graphic area.


Fig 07 – You can select, drag, and drop the plane, right in the graphic area, after it is made visible.

To hide the plane, and to hide any element in your graphic area (each element has a corresponding node in the design tree), you right-click on the plane again and click the same glasses icon.


Fig 08 – Hide any node in the design tree by right-clicking on it, and clicking the Show/Hide button.

While we have created a new part document, in order to start sketching, we need to create a sketch. Right click on the plane where you want to place your sketch, and click the New Sketch button, shown below:


Fig 09 – The New Sketch button, which you get to via a right-click on the plane where you want to sketch.

This inserts a new sketch into your part, and it now has a node in the design tree:


Fig 10 – The new sketch now has its own node in the design tree.

The status bar now states that you’re editing sketch 1, and that it’s under-defined:


Fig 11 – The status bar of a new sketch displays Editing Sketch (number).

At the top right of the window of an active sketch is the confirmation corner, highlighted in the image below. After you finish working on your sketch, you click the arrow to accept your changes and exit, or the red X to discard your work. Please visit our website at or our youtube channel at for many more SolidWorks tutorials. Our SolidWorks Essentials course is the first place to start!


Fig 12 -The confirmation corner of an active sketch.

If you click the red X at this point, prior to creating any geometry, then the node for Sketch 1 disappears from your design tree. You’ll have to create a new sketch as described above to get sketching again.

There’s a few more ways to create a new sketch. Make sure you’re on the Sketch tab, and if you don’t see it, right-click on any tab at the bottom of the command manager and select it from the list of tabs. Remember, any tab marked with a checkmark in this list is visible in your command manager.


Fig 13 – If you don’t see the sketch tab, right-click on any tab and select it from the list. Any tab marked with a checkmark is visible on your Command Manager.

At the far left of the ribbon on the Sketch tab is the New Sketch command. If you click on the down-arrow, you get the sketch tool submenu, giving you a choice between a two-dimensional sketch and a three-dimensional sketch.


Fig 14 – The Sketch Tool submenu lets you choose between a 2D or 3D sketch.

In this SolidWorks Tutorials – First Sketch, we’re going to work in the 2d sketch environment for now, where you sketch on one plane at a time. When we select Sketch, we’re prompted to select a plane on which to create a sketch:


Fig 15 – You’re prompted to select a plane on which to begin your 2D sketch.

You can select right in the graphic area, or expand the node for Part 1 and select from the embedded design tree. You need to click the plus sign to expand the node. Once it’s expanded, click the minus sign to collapse the node.


Fig 16 – The embedded design tree can be expanded and collapsed by clicking the plus and minus signs.

Select a plane from this tree to begin your sketch. After I made the selection, the sketch is active and ready for you to start your work. The sketch has a node in the tree, but instead of being called Sketch 1, it’s called Sketch 2, even though we didn’t create any geometry before clicking Accept in the confirmation corner. SolidWorks automatically numbers it as the second sketch. The status bar also tells us that we’re editing Sketch 2.


Fig 17 – The sketch we just created has a node, and it’s called Sketch 2, instead of Sketch 1, even though we didn’t save our first sketch.


Fig 18 – The status bar tells us we’re Editing Sketch2.

There’s another way to start a sketch, and I’ll show you how in this SolidWorks Tutorials – First Sketch before we get busy with the sketch tools. So, we’re going to exit the sketch, this time without saving, by clicking the red X. Then, SolidWorks asks us to confirm that we don’t want to save:


Fig 19 – Confirmation upon exit without save, when you click the red X in the confirmation corner.

Let’s take a look at the third way to create a sketch. It’s right from the Features tab. The features tab is where do we part modeling, that is, turning our sketches into a 3D part.


Fig 20 – The Features tab; we can also start a sketch from here.

On the Features tab, we have only two tools available; the rest are grayed out. The Extruded Boss/Base and the Revolved Boss Base are sketch-based features. In other words, you can create these features with a sketch. The other features on this tab are created from other features, so you need more than just a sketch to work with those tools; that’s why they are grayed out. But the extrude and the revolve just need the sketch, and if you activate either one of those commands, you can create the sketch from within the tool property manager.

If I click on Extruded Boss/Base, I’m prompted to create a sketch by selecting a plane on which to sketch the feature cross section:


Fig 21 – The Extrude tool property manager asks us to start with a sketch.

After we select a plane, Sketch 3 becomes active and the status bar tells us we’re editing Sketch 3. Sketch 3 has a node in the design tree.

Now let’s get sketching! This concludes our introduction to sketching, in this SolidWorks Tutorials for Beginners series. We’ll pick up with the Line tool in our next lesson, SolidWorks Tutorials – Line Tool.