Troubleshooting Why Materials Appear to Flicker When a Camera View is Rotated

Reference Number: KB-00107
Last Modified: September 21, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


When I take a 3D camera view of my plan, the materials don't look right.  They appear to flicker on screen when I rotate, and look as though they are showing the materials that should be behind them.

Why is this happening, and how do I fix it so my plan displays correctly?


There are several different potential reasons why you may exhibit this behavior, known as z-fighting. The most common reasons are

  • The plan is located too far from the origin.

  • You have a very large terrain.

  • Two materials are attempting to occupy the same space.

  • If the problem occurs in all files, then your video card driver may need updated.


To resolve the issue, we first need to determine the cause. If all of the objects in your plan appear to be exhibiting the behavior, the issue is likely related to one of the first two, either the plan is located too far from the origin, or you have an exceedingly large terrain.

To determine if your plan is located very far from the origin

  1. First, launch Chief Architect and Open the .plan file exhibiting the behavior.

  2. In floor plan view, move your mouse cursor around in the drawing area, and observe the X and Y coordinate values on your status bar.

  3. If these values are excessively large,  then your plan is likely located too far from the origin.

    The most common reason for this would be if you have imported a DWG or DXF file from a third party source in to the program that was located very far from the origin, and then proceeded to draw in this area rather than moving it back to the origin.

To move your plan closer to the origin

  1. Use the layer set drop-down menu on your toolbar to switch to the All On layer set.

    If you have made any changes to this layer set so not all of the layers may be enabled, please select Tools> Layer Settings> Display Options and turn on all of the layers before continuing. 

  2. Once you have switched to the All On layer set, go to the floor that has data such as the terrain perimeter or lot lines that extends the furthest away from the structure (typically this is Floor 1).

  3. Next, select Window> Fill Window to zoom out so that the entire view fits on the screen.

  4. Now select Edit> Edit Area> Edit Area (All Floors) then click and drag a marquee around everything in floor plan.

  5. Once selected, click on the Transform/Replicate edit tool.

  6. In the Transform/Replicate Object dialog:

    • Place a checkmark in the Move box

    • Change the radio button to Absolute Location

    • Set the X Delta and Y Delta values both to 0"

    • Click OK to apply this change

  7. Once you have moved the data closer to the origin, select Window> Fill Window again.

  8. Finally, take a new 3D Full Overview of the structure to verify that has resolved the issue.

In the future, if you import a DWG or DXF file from an outside source, you'll want to make sure to set it back to the origin before beginning to draw in the structure, as per the instructions in the "Locating an imported 2D .dxf or .dwg file in my floorplan" article linked at the bottom of this page. 

To accommodate large terrain

If you have a very large terrain, and are experiencing z-fighting only when taking a Full Overview , then you may need to use a standard Full Camera View outside of the structure and adjust it to create the type of view you want. 

You can also increase the
Clip Surfaces Within setting in your Perspective Full Overview Camera Specification dialog. The default will be 24", but you can increase this to a larger value, such as 300".  You may need to test different values in this plan in order to create the results you want in the overview without experiencing Z-Fighting.

You can specify this in your camera defaults as well, however remember to reset the "Clip Surfaces "Within" back to the 24" default when the overview camera is not in use. This is because all cameras created in your plan will be affected, not just overviews, and this can create undesirable results when trying to take an interior camera view.

To adjust two objects occupying the same space

If the z-fighting only appears to be in one area of a plan, it is likely that an object is occupying the same space as another object.  A common example for this would be if a slab is absolutely even with the terrain, you will notice the flickering of the concrete material of the slab with that of the grass terrain below.

If this is the case, raising the height of the slab, even by so much as 1/16" will typically resolve the issue.

To verify video card requirements

Finally, it is also important to ensure that your video card meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements, and that you are using the most up to date driver which is compatible with your operating system.

If none of the suggestions above resolved the issue, we would recommend you verify these.

System Requirements, including those for the video card, can be located on the website at:

If you are unfamiliar with the process to update your video card's driver, basic instructions can be located in the online Knowledge Base article titled "Troubleshooting 3D Camera View Display Problems" in the Related Articles section below.

Online Support Center

If none of the above suggestions resolves the issue with z-fighting, please use the File> Backup Entire Plan  feature to backup your .plan file along with all associated textures, backdrops and images, and send the file in to our Support team via the Online Support Center by following the instructions in the Related Articles section below.