SolidWorks 2008: Colors and Appearances

June 29, 2008 12 Comments »
SolidWorks 2008: Colors and Appearances

If you frequent any of the SolidWorks forums around the web you have probably seen discussions relating the differences and nuances of Colors and Appearances in SolidWorks 2008.  This is a subject that does have a few users up in arms.  To their defense, it can be a bit hard to get your arms around the whole concept of it without some background information.

Colors_Appearances First off, let’s define Colors and Appearances.  Colors are what we have had in SolidWorks for years.  You have the ability to apply Colors to parts, features, faces, bodies, & assembly components.  Appearances have similar capabilities in how you can apply them to SolidWorks parts and assemblies.  They carry with them not only colors but textures and other effects that make the Appearance more realistic when RealView is enabled.  Appearances also transfer to PhotoWorks with great success most of the time.  This can save time when you get around to creating a rendering of your product.  When RealView is ON, Colors (and Textures) cannot be applied or changed.  Depending on how and when the Colors where applied, you can get some varying degrees of results in RealView/Appearance mode.

The first thing you need to remember is that if you turn on RealView and apply Appearances, the “color” used in the Appearances applied is transferred to the same entity selected in Colors.  Where this can go wrong for many users is when they spend all their time applying colors in Color mode to various entity types.  When they switch over to RealView/Appearances they are shocked to find that NONE of their colors have transferred!  An import thing to remember is that this occurrence applies specifically to parts or assemblies that have had the Colors applied in SolidWorks 2008.  If you open a model from a previous version of SolidWorks that have had Colors applied in a similar manner, all the Colors (no matter if you selected faces, bodies, features, etc.) are automatically ported to RealView/Appearances.

To avoid these issues, apply the “colors” with RealView ON using Appearances. If you turn off RealView, your Colors should look the same (without all the RealView effects of course).

I can tell you that changes are being made in SolidWorks 2009 that will simplify this issue but since that information is still under NDA I cannot elaborate.  If you want to check out the changes in detail, I highly encourage you to visit the Customer Portal and participate in the SolidWorks 2009 Beta program.

CLICK HERE to view a video that demonstrates the details outlined above.

There is a GREAT presentation on RealView given by Ron Bates and Mark Biasotti from SolidWorks World 2008.  You can download this presentation at the Customer Portal in the links section under “SolidWorks World 2008″.  You can find their presentation in the Wednesday 1:30 time slot.

Here is some good reference information on Appearance Callouts posted by The SolidWorks Geek (Alex Ruiz).  I mention this because I used Appearance Callouts a few times in the above video demo.

Stay tuned….more to come!

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  • Man, wish i could get into a discussion about this and the changes in 2009, but… ok, to the forums :( – thanks for bringing this up. I think people should look forward to better ways. :)

  • Man, wish i could get into a discussion about this and the changes in 2009, but… ok, to the forums :( – thanks for bringing this up. I think people should look forward to better ways. :)

  • I have to agree this can be a real pain in the preverbial, especially for somebody who uses it as much as me.. I too look forward to 2009.. the future is bright, the future is ………… :)

  • color_chart,

    If you haven't already, make sure you check out this post:

    This has more information on how Appearances are handled in SolidWorks 2009.


  • yiannis

    Hi Ricky,
    I added the Sand appearance to a part but want to change the colour of the sand. Is it possible? Is there a way to edit the Sand appearance?

  • Yiannis,

    You CAN change the color of the sand…but not in SolidWorks. If you have access to Photoshop or a similar image editor you can take the .JPG file of the sand that was included as part of your installation and edit it in the image editor.

    I found the file in the following location in my 2009 installation –
    C:Program FilesSolidWorks CorpSolidWorksdataImagestextures2organicmiscellaneoussand.jpg

    Once you have created this image, you can place it in a folder somewhere (I recommend a separate folder from the install folder so it isn't blown away in future versions.) and then Browse to that image using the “Browse” button in the appearance PropertyManager. (You'll have to place an appearance to get this obviously) Once you do that SolidWorks will prompt you to save the .p2m appearance file. (Save it in the same folder as your new image). If you set this folder using the tools at the top of the Appearance Task Pane you can use them for other parts!

    I hope this makes sense. I will send you a same file that I created off the sand.jpg to the e-mail you registered your comment with.


  • The new version is much better – a little easier to use. If you haven't got it, downloading the update is easy – you won't look back, and it's free!

  • mahen1978

    Dear All, I like to know how to get more textures of more material for Solidworks 2009 Photoworks

  • mahen1978

    Dear All, I like to know how to get more textures of more material for Solidworks 2009 Photoworks

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