Setting Up the Blue Prints:
Start a sketch on the Right Plane. You will want to use the Sketch Picture button to add your Right blueprint image. If the Sketch Picture button isn’t on your Sketch tab you can add it by right clicking on the sketch ribbon somewhere, customize and add it. Also you can go up to the Tools menu, Sketch Tools>Sketch Picture. Setting up these blueprint images so they line up is extremely important to the quality of your model. If each image has a different scale or border you will need to ensure they are lined up. I like to leave the bottom left corner of the picture at the origin. Also note while you are in the Sketch Picture dialog that 6 handles will appear around the border of your image. These handles will stretch the image so be careful you don’t grab them. OK the sketch picture and exit the sketch.
Start a sketch on the Front Plane and follow the same procedure for adding the Front Blueprint image. My preference is to move this image so that it is centered on the origin. This allows me to mirror surfaces across the Right Plane later on in the process. Be very careful not to stretch/scale the image as you move it. Since we are not exactly replicating the car getting it close will be just fine.
Follow this same procedure for the Top Blueprint image on the Top Plane. For the Back you will want to create an offset plane based on the Front Plane. This isn’t really necessary but I like to keep the back image at the back of the car.
Notice my feature tree. I’ve added a Back Plane for the back blueprint image. I’ve also added a folder called Blueprints and all of my named blueprint sketches are within this folder. I've also changed my default plane names.
In the feature tree you will notice between the Sketch icon and the sketch name the (-). This means that sketch is under defined. Unfortunately there is no way that I know of to define the sketch, but you can only move/scale the sketch when in the Sketch Picture dialog. I do not worry about these being under defined. Also throughout the model I do not worry about fully defining my curves. It’s always a good idea to define your curves. In the instance of this car I go back and make tweaks here and there so I leave them under defined. This will come back to bite you so understand the risk you are taking by no defining things fully.
Now that your feature tree is cleaned up and you have your 4 sketch images laid out take a step back and think about the model a bit. If you are entering into a model like this for the first time it’s important to know that you will go through several changes and revisions. Sometimes you can get things to work right the first time, but not always. Every model will have its own challenges so be prepared to save your work and save a copy, then delete and work back from an earlier point. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses because you will spend way more time trying to fix a model than if you just start over. The worst thing you can do is try to fix something later and ruin the model because the updates aren’t working. Everyone who deals with complex surfacing will tell you the same thing. Play around with lines and the tools you have available to you before you dive into the actual model. Since this tutorial assumes you have prior working knowledge of SolidWorks and its complex surfacing tools I will just dive right in.
Some more warning, I promise we will get to the actual model soon. The quality of your surface is only as good as the curves that define it. If your curves have lots of inflection points, so will your surfaces. Always start your splines with only the end points and control them using the handles or polygon methods. If you can’t get your shape with only the end handles add spline points 1 at a time. The fewer the better, always!