How to Trace Over an Imported File to Create a 3D Model

Reference Number: KB-00018 Last Updated: 02-03-2015 01:24 PM

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors or Chief Architect Lite


My photograph has dimensions on it, and I would like to import it into Chief Architect and use it to create a 1:1 scale drawing.  How do I do this?


There isn't a way to convert a digital image into a 3D model in Chief Architect; however, you can use an image of a floor plan as a template to trace over.  Imported images are not scaled drawings, so in order to produce an accurate model, you will need to make some adjustments to your drawing.

To import a picture of a floor plan

The picture file must be saved with a .BMP, .JPG or .PNG file extension and should be saved in the same folder on your computer as the plan file you want it to appear in.

  1. Launch Chief Architect and open a New Plan .

  2. From the menu select File > Import Picture to open the Import Picture File dialog.

    • Browse to the picture file that you would like to import, click on its name to select it, then click the Open button.

    • The image will now be visible in the center of the drawing area.

  3. Next, locate a wall or other object in the image that you know the exact size of and make a note of its length - In this example we'll use the 10'.

  4. Select Build> Wall> Exterior Wall from the menu and click and drag a wall section that is parallel to the wall in the imported image and is exactly the length of the selected dimension.

    • Rather than draw it exactly 10' long, you can draw it approximately that long and then specify its exact length on the General panel of the Wall Specification dialog.

  5. Click the Select Objects arrow tool, then click on the picture to select it.

  6. Click and drag the edit handle located on the corners of the image to resize it in a uniform manner.

    Continue resizing the picture until the size of the 10 foot wall in the picture matches the 10 foot wall that you drew.

    Grabbing the sides of the image instead of the corners will crop the image. If you need to resize while not maintaining the aspect ratio open the Picture File Box Specification dialog and remove the checkmark for "Retain Aspect Ratio".

  7. Once the two are the same size, drag the new wall you created over the top of the wall in the picture. Now draw new walls over the ones in the picture.

    • For best results, use dimensions to accurately size and position all walls after you are finished.

  8. When you are finished, you can select the imported picture and Delete it.

  9. If you prefer to keep it saved in the file, it will be helpful to turn off its display.  Select the picture and click the Open Object edit button.  On the Line Style tab of the the Picture File Box Specification dialog:

    • Note that the selected picture is located on the "CAD, Default" layer.

    • Click the Define button to the right of the Layer drop-down list.

  10. In the Layer Display Options dialog:

    • Click the Copy button at the bottom of the dialog box.

    • Give the new layer a short, descriptive name such as "Image, Floor Plan".

    • Click to remove the checkbox from the Display column for this layer.

    • Click OK to close the Layer Display Options dialog.

    • Your new layer will be selected in the Picture File Box Specification dialog.  Click OK to close this dialog, as well.

By adding fixtures, furniture and walls over the picture you will create a duplicate of the original floor plan image, and will be able to see your creation in a 3D camera view.

In this manner your picture can be used as a guide or template while creating a floor plan, and a drawing scaled at 1:1 can be produced using your Chief Architect software.

To import a .dwg or .dxf CAD file into Chief Architect

  1. First, launch Chief Architect and select File> New Plan .

  2. In floor plan view, select File> Import> Drawing (DWG, DXF) to launch the Import Drawing Wizard.

  3. Follow each step in the Wizard, making very sure that under the Drawing Unit window that you use the drop-down menu to choose the appropriate unit of measurement that was used to create this drawing.

    If you have any question on the options in the Import Drawing Wizard, click on the Help button located near the lower right of the dialog to launch the software's context sensitive help on this feature.

  4. Once you have completed the Import Drawing Wizard, you will click Finish to bring the 2D line drawing into your floor plan view.

  5. Next, use the tools to trace over the 2D line drawing to create Walls , Doors , Windows , and place objects from the Library Browser to create and decorate a 3D structure of your design that can be viewed using the Camera tools.

    In addition to the tools listed above you can also convert CAD lines into walls automatically by using the CAD To Walls feature. See the Related Articles section for more information on this feature.