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How to Add Decals to Spheres in SOLIDWORKS

Friday October 13, 2023 at 8:00am

Learn how to add decals in SOLIDWORKS quickly with this step-by-step tutorial.

Decals can be used to add your logo to parts in SOLIDWORKS, and we’ll show you how to map a decal to a sphere using the mapping controls.

Let’s take the model we created when showing you how to create a golf ball in SOLIDWORKS.


  1. How to add a decal in SOLIDWORKS.
  2. How to use SOLIDWORKS decal mapping.
  3. How to use the Illumination tab.

How to Add a Decal in SOLIDWORKS

To add an image as a decal, head to the Display Manager tab, select View Decals, right click in the space below and select Add Decal.

Select Browse and select the image file that you would like to use.

SOLIDWORKS gives us a few options to control the transparency of the decal, but if you’re working with a PNG file, then the alpha channel has already defined the transparency.

Our logo is a PNG and should have a transparent background, so we’ll select Use decal image alpha channel, to inherit the transparency from the file.

SOLIDWORKS Decal Mapping Tutorial

Head to the Mapping tab and switch off all the filters apart from the Solid Body filter and select the body in the graphics area.

We have selected the body filter due to having multiple faces that we want the decal to cross over, so instead of selecting the faces individually we have the entire surface.

This part can be a bit fiddly, depending on the mapping option selected.

When you select the Spherical mapping option, latitude, and longitude (red and green) lines appear in the graphics area circumscribing a bounding box cage around the object. These lines act as the reference axis for positioning/offsetting the decal from the south pole to the north pole.

The first step is to adjust the poles to be positioned at the top and bottom of the model. The default position of the poles is aligned with the X axis. We can do this by adjusting the axis direction values highlighted below.

The first field - Axis direction 1, rotates the longitude lines about the Z axis and Axis direction 2 rotates the latitude lines about the Y axis.

Now we can adjust the mapping values, offsetting our decal into position from the pole positions using the values highlighted below.

Next, we can adjust the rotation and scale of the decal to the right size, either by inserting values in the property window or in the graphics area we can drag one of the corners to adjust the scale and rotate by dragging the wheel.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to use the Projection mapping option, you can select the projection direction as the XY / ZX / YZ axis, you can also choose Selected Reference which allows you to select a plane/face/axis or edge in the graphics area.

A fast way to map the decal into position is to select Current View from the drop down, then select the graphics area. Press the spacebar and select the orientation that you would like the decal to be in line with, and finally select Update to Current and the decal projection will align with the current orientation.

How to Use the Illumination Tab

Finally, to fine tune the lighting properties for the decal, this can be achieved on the Illumination tab. The tick box at the top for Dynamic help turns on extremely useful tooltips when you hover your cursor over each property.

The second tick box Use underlying appearance is most used, as this applies the illumination settings from the appearance under the decal to the decal.

When cleared, this option sets the illumination for the decal directly and enables the remaining options in this PropertyManager.

Looking for More Tips?

Sign up to our CPD-accredited training courses.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete beginner or are intimately familiar with CAD, our friendly and expert trainers are ready to help you get the most out of SOLIDWORKS, either online or in a classroom local to you.

We also have a load of free SOLIDWORKS tutorials across our site, or you can check out our YouTube channel for more tips and tricks.

Don’t forget, with a SOLIDWORKS subscription, you can contact our expert Technical Support team to help you out with new commands and modelling tips.

Call us on 01926 333 777 or drop an email to and one of our certified SOLIDWORKS Engineers will be in contact.

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