Sketcher External

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Sketcher External.svg Sketcher External

Menu location
Sketch → Sketcher geometries → Sketcher External
Sketcher, PartDesign
Default shortcut
Introduced in version
See also


When a sketch is mapped to a face of a solid, the Sketcher External Geometry tool can be used to link to an edge or vertex of that solid. It works by inserting a linked construction geometry into the sketch. The default colour of externally linked edges, is magenta. As with standard non-linked construction geometry (blue), the externally linked geometry is only visible when the sketch is in edit mode and is not directly used in the subsequent result from use of the sketch in another tool. Both types of construction geometry may be used as a reference for constraints within the sketch.

This tool is used to constrain elements of a sketch with reference to an element of an external solid, to which the sketch has been mapped. For example, it could be used to pocket a hole in the centre of a solid or 30mm from one end etc..

The external geometry tool can only be applied to edges and/or vertices of the solid to which the sketch has been mapped. Consequently you can only link to elements of 3d solids. The edges may be straight, an arc or a circle.

You can not link to an external geometry of the solid which will be created from the sketch you are currently editing. This seems logical, however it is a common issue when re-editing a sketch. When re-editing a sketch of a PartDesign feature which is mapped to the face of a solid it is necessary to hide the solid that was created from the currently being edited sketch and un-hide the previous solid. Now the previous solid is visible and you can apply the external geometry tool to one of its elements, if you wish.

As an example of this, imagine you have two pads, Pad001 and Pad002. Pad002 was created from a sketch that is attached to one face of Pad001. You want to edit this sketch. When you edit the sketch the solid Pad002 is visible in the scene. If you select an edge you might be selecting an edge of Pad002, which is not allowed. To overcome this you should hide Pad002 (using the space bar) and unhide Pad001. Now when you select an edge you will be selecting an edge of Pad001. You may want to enable the Selection View panel View->Panels->Selection view; this panel will show you exactly which object you are selecting and is very helpful for understanding this common editing issue.

Sketcher ExternalEsempio1.png


  • Create a new sketch on face of a solid (Click on the solid face, then click the 'Create Sketch' button) or map an existing sketch to a selected face of a solid (first select a single face of a solid then use the "Map Sketch to Face" tool), or double click a sketch in the model tree to open it for editing.
  • Click the 'Sketcher External' button
  • Select the edge, or vertex, of the solid that you want to link to in the sketch (remember this must be an edge or vertex of the solid to which the sketch is mapped)

Appearance When Successfully Linked

A (default magenta) coloured line will be overlaid when an edge is successfully linked (the vertices will be red), and will be visible in your sketch only while your sketch is in edit mode.

Similarity to Construction Lines

External geometry (default colour magenta) lines are similar (default colour blue) Contruction lines except in that the external geometry magenta lines are parametrically linked back to an element of the solid to which the sketch is mapped. Construction geometry are lines that are internal to the sketch, are only visible when the sketch is in edit mode and will be used for constraint references only, and not directly for later solid operations, like Pad or Pocket.

Use Of External Geometry in a PartDesign Workbench Work Flow

In the PartDesign workbench work flow, the External Geometry tool is used to assist in the positioning of an aspect of the solid you are constructing, relative to the previous stage in its construction. PartDesign workbench is intended to produce one single solid, therefore these sketches with external geometry are used to create a new feature of that one single solid.

The external geometry can, for example, be used as a reference for a constraint being used to position a hole in an object at a specific location relative to an edge or vertex.

Use Of External Geometry in a Part Workbench Work Flow

Part Workbench tools make new separate solids, unlike PartDesign tools which make a new feature of a single solid.

Some of the Part workbench tools can use a sketch for input. Where this is the case, the sketch can use the External geometry tool if the sketch is mapped to a face of a solid in a similar way to the PartDesign workbench.

Unlike a PartDesign tool, the result of a Part tool will be a separate solid and the placement parameters can be modified after construction. The sketch will define the location of the solid constructed from it, when its placement parameters are set to zero. Any changes made to these placement values will move the solid relative to the location defined by the sketch.


This, below, is a sketch mapped to the top face of a solid created from a Pad of a previous sketch. The magenta lines are External Geometry linked to two edges of this pre-existing Pad.

In this case they are used as a reference for tangency constraints with the circumferences of one circle. They are also used as the reference for a horizontal and a vertical constraint to locate the centre of the second circle relative to the end and top of the Pad.

Sketcher ExternalEsempio2.png

This is the same sketch in edit mode, with the Pad upon which it is mapped hidden.

Sketcher ExternalEsempio4.png

When the sketch edit mode is closed, External Geometry lines are not visible.

Sketcher ExternalEsempio3.png

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