Demystifying the Color Settings in SolidWorks Parts and Assemblies

Applying colors to parts and assemblies in SolidWorks is not a difficult task, but one must be aware of the many levels at which color can be applied as well as what feature colors ‘overrule’ one another.

Colors can be applied to a part as a whole, or to many items within that part including FACES, FEATURES, BODIES and SKETCHES.

A part set to a specific color can also be overridden by the color setting for that part in any top level assembly that contains that part. This includes not only setting a part color in an assembly file different from the part color itself, but the assembly may also have a color setting that applies to ALL the parts within that assembly.

To access the Appearance Menu, right-click on any face of a part and select the Color PaletteAppearances icon. You can also click in the Appearances column in the Display Pane next to the feature you want to set or change.

** To apply a color to a SKETCH, right-click the sketch and select “SKETCH COLOR.”

You will see a hierarchy from top to bottom of FACE, FEATURE, BODY and PART. In an assembly, there is an additional top setting for PART COLOR IN THE ASSEMBLY.

*** This order from top to bottom is the ‘Overrule’ order.

Example: Color applied to a face overrules color applied to the whole feature containing that face.

Part Appearance Setting
Part Appearance Settings
Assembly Appearance Settings
Assembly Appearance Settings

Part Color Settings

Using the Display Pane, you can visualize where all of the colors are applied, as well as edit or remove the appearances.

In the part file shown below, the third column of the display pane is the Appearances. It visually shows where each color has been applied to the Part file.
• The Part is BLUE
• The Cylindrical Body is RED
• Sketch1 is GREEN
• The Boss, Extrude4 is ORANGE
• One face of Extrude4 is MAGENTA

Part Color Setting

Assembly Color Settings

In the image below, the same part is now shown in an assembly. Here, the color of the part is set to YELLOW as indicated by the triangle in the upper left corner of the Appearance next to the Part Name.

Assembly Color Setting

If color is applied to a part in an assembly, that color overrules ALL Face, Feature, Body and Part colors applied in the Part window. The Sketch Colors, if shown, are NOT overruled and remain the same throughout the file structure.

Appearance icon Appearance (blank) No appearance applied to the sub-assembly.
Part Color icon Part Color Lower-right triangle shows the appearance of the part from the part document.
Override Part Color icon Override Color / Part Color Upper-left triangle shows the override appearance specified in the assembly document.

Assembly Color OverridenIn the graphic to the left, the user clicked next to the sub assembly in the Appearance column and set the assembly to BROWN.

All Face, Feature, Body and Part Colors are overridden by the Assembly Color.

You may also right-click the Assembly and select the Color Palette Appearances icon to apply the same setting.

Display State  

Right-click, CLEAR ALL TOP LEVEL OVERRIDES will NOT clear the assembly color setting from the Display Pane.

It will clear ALL Hide/Show Overrides, Part Color Overrides and Display Mode Overrides.



Darin Grosser is a SolidWorks Elite Application Engineer, Certified SolidWorks Expert and a senior member of the technical staff at DASI Solutions, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations throughout Michigan and Indiana. He is a regular contributor to the DASI Solutions Blog.

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