NOTE: (as of SolidWorks 2012 any version of SolidWorks can add decals to models)
Inserting a decal (a picture of sorts) on your model could make it look about as sexy as you can get, but the procedure is somewhat hidden from plain sight.
To create a new decal you can use one of 2 methods:
Method 1: Drag and drop an existing decal from the decal library (found under the Appearances tab in your task pane) onto your model, then select the face and edit the decal. You’ll be able to specify a new source picture as well as an image mask… say what?
An image mask is a special layer on top of your existing image to specify which part of the image will be transparent.Take a look at the image above, at the text on the models. None of that text inserted using the annotations functions of SolidWorks. Instead, *.png files were used that included their own alpha channels (okay bear with me now). These can be used as the input masks for SolidWorks’ decal settings
For the layman: Alpha channels are similar to image masks because they give transparency information across to any program that makes use of the image. For a decal, this could mean that the black text should be shown, while anything else should remain transparent, as in the case of the text in the image above.
Method 2: Create a new decal by hitting the new decal button on the features toolbar…. hey wait, it’s not there!? Okay so where is it?
Enter the PhotoView 360 add-in available in the professional and premium versions of SolidWorks. Enable the add-in by going to Tools -> Add-ins -> PhotoView 360. A new toolbar is placed in your command manager toolbar called Render Tools. Locate the button that says Edit Decal. This will allow you to create your own decals from scratch, without having to edit an existing decal. Of course, that’s not the only function this (have I said awesome and fantastic yet?) add-in has. Click the Integrated preview button to show a progressive render of the current model. Neat hey?