Using Assembly Layout Sketches

By David Brown

Layout sketches in an assembly are typically used for top down assembly modeling. An example of this can be seen in this image of an assembly that contains a layout sketch with a block. Three components are then created from the block elements. The layout is created in such a way that the sketch entities will move due to their relations, and the components created from those sketch entities will then move as well.

In this blog article, we are going to examine a different approach to using a layout sketch in an assembly. Rather than designing components from blocks, referred to as Top Down Assembly Modeling, we are going to use blocks and sketch entities in a layout to control the position of components in a room; a set of drums.

In a past life, I worked for a company that designed high-end custom restaurant furniture - bars, buffet lines, divider walls, upholstered booths, etc. Everything was custom and had to be designed to fit into the front-of-house space in a restaurant. As such, I had to work from a floor plan that was typically provided to me in the form of a .DWG file. I would use this information to design the furniture components and create blocks from my solid models, (click on the links below to see the associated video and blog I have created that demonstrates this), place the blocks in a layout sketch with the floor plan, and feed that back to the customer for approval.

Another benefit of taking this approach was the ability to model the project and render it. This approach can be used anytime you have components in an assembly that need to be placed in a space relative to each other, but not necessarily mated to each other. When the components are mated to the blocks in the assembly, it is very easy to control their position by simply changing the dimensions of the layout sketch.


When you first begin a new assembly file, the Begin Assembly property manager opens and provides you with a choice. You can either insert a component or “design top down using a layout with blocks”. If you select the button Create Layout, SOLIDWORKS will open a layout sketch on the Front Plane. If I am trying to simulate a room environment, I really need this layout sketch to be placed on the Top Plane.

In order to have the layout sketch on the top plane, you need to select the Top Plane first, then select the Layout command from the Insert drop down menu as shown in the image below.

This will now open up a layout sketch on the Top Plane. If needed, you would then place the floor plan of your room on this sketch and begin placing and arranging the blocks that were created from your solid models. My recommendation would be to create the blocks and place them in a project folder for easy access.

Inserting blocks into the layout is accomplished by selecting Insert Block from the Layout tab on the Command Manager, which is available when working in an assemblyfile. Continue placing blocks into the layout sketch and then dimension them according to the desired behavior. For the example of the drums, the finished layout sketch is shown below. As you can see, the location of the drums, throne, and cymbal stands can all be controlled by the dimensions of the layout sketch. The final step is to then place the components into the assembly and mate them to the blocks in the layout sketch. For this example, once the components are in…

I am ready to ROCK and ROLL!!  

For more information, please click on the related blog and video links below.

BLOG - How to Create a Block from a Part or Assembly

VIDEO – Create Block from Part 2015

VIDEO – Assembly Layout Sketch

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