Customizing a Library Material

Reference Number: KB-01006 Last Updated: 11-12-2014 01:52 PM

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors or Chief Architect Lite


I found a material in Chief Architect's library that I want to modify.  However, if I use the rainbow tool in a camera view to change the material's pattern in Vector Views, or its texture in Standard rendered views, it changes all instances of that material in my plan, and it does not save my changes in the library. 

How can I make a customized library material that I can use in plans in the future?


Much like objects, materials in Chief Architect can be edited so that they better suit your design needs.

The Adjust Material Definition  tool is useful for quickly changing plan materials directly from a 3D view, however, changing a material defintion with this tool affects all objects in the current plan that are using that material.  It does not affect any materials saved in the library or materials used in other plans, though, so is not useful if you want to be able to edit the material on just a single object, or reuse the altered material in the future.

If you wish to customize a material that you see in the Library Browser and make those changes available for use in other plans or for exporting, begin by creating a copy of the material and then modify it as needed. 



Bear in mind that while you can customize a manufacturer's material in a wide variety of ways, the end result may not be something that the manufacturer can actually provide.

To save a modified material in the library

If you have modified a material in a plan and wish to add it to the library for future use, you can do so by following these steps.

  1. Create a 3D view of an object using your modified material, click the Select Objects  button, then click on the object to select it. 

  2. Click the Open Object  edit button to open the object's specification dialog and go to the Materials tab.

    • Select the component that has your modified material applied to it from the list on the left side of the dialog box.

    • Click the Plan Materials button to open the Plan Materials dialog.

  3. Scroll down the list of plan materials on the left and confirm that your modified material is the selected material, then click the Add to Library button on the lower right side of the dialog.

    • Your modified material will be added to the Library Browser

    • Click OK to close the Plan Materials dialog, then click OK once more to close the selected object's specification dialog.

  4. The copy of you material can now be found in your User Catalog.

    You may find it helpful to create a new folder specifically for modified library materials.

To create a copy of a library material

  1.  Select Library> Library Browser  to display the Library Browser.

  2. Browse to the material that you would like to make changes to.

    • For the purposes of this example, we browsed to Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers> Modernism> Mod Generation> Now What (Sunshine).

      Note: Like most libraries provided by Chief Architect, this material is locked, which means that it cannot be directly modified.

  3. Right-click on the material and choose Copy from the ­contextual menu.

    Tip: You can also right-click on an unlocked user library and select New> Material to create a new material from an image file saved on your computer and edit it in the same manner as described in this article.

    See Article 767: How to create a new material.

  4. Browse to the User Catalog, right-click on either the category name, or a folder within it, and select Paste.

    In X3, browse to My Library folder in the Library Browser.

    In X2, browse to the User Libraries folder in the Library Browser.

    • The pasted copy of the original material is now ready to be modified. 

    • Note that when pasted, it retains the same material name as the original which we copied it from.

To customize a material in the User Catalog

Materials can appear in up to three different types of 3D views, as well as in the Materials List.


You can control how your custom material's pattern looks in 3D views using the Technical Illustration, Line Drawing and Vector View rendering techniques; how its texture looks in views using the Standard, Enhanced Lighting, Duotone, Painting and Watercolor rendering techniques; and how it looks in Raytrace views. Finally, you can also specify how the material is counted or calculated in the Materials List.

  1. Right-click on the newly pasted material and select Open to display the Define Material dialog.

  2. On the General tab, type a short, descriptive new name for the custom material. This name will display in the Library Browser.

    For the purposes of this example, we will call the new material Now What - Medium Blue


    • The settings on the General tab primarily affect how the material will be counted and appear in the Materials List.  If you are only making cosmetic changes to the selected material, leave its Type unchanged.

    • You can also specify the Material Color and Pattern Line Color here, where for the purposes of our example, we will select a blue color.

      These colors will be seen in 3D views such as Orthographic and Cross Section/Elevation views, in which materials are represented using patterms, rather than textures.

  3. When you have finished making changes on the General tab, select the Pattern tab. Materials have two attributes that determine what they look like in 3D views, patterns and textures, and this tab addresses how patterns display.

    Patterns are composed of CAD lines and are used to represent materials in 3D views using the Technical Illustration, Line Drawing and Vector View rendering techniques.  


    • A preview of the material displays in this tab as it appears in 3D views that use patterns. The preview updates as changes are made.

      Note: Both patterns and textures are assigned origins, which determine where the pattern or texture begins on an X/Y axis. Depending on the placement of a particular object relative to this origin, a material applied to it may not look right in 3D. You can address this by specifying a new origin for the material’s pattern and/or texture. By default, this origin is 0,0.

      For directions on determining the origin, see the Materials chapter of the Chief Architect Reference Manual, available in .­pdf or searchable CHM format under the software's Help menu.

  4. Next, select the Texture tab.  In most Rendering Techniques, materials are represented by textures. However, the preview of the selected texture is as it appears using the Standard Rendering Technique. As the settings are changed, the preview updates.


    • You have the ability here to adjust the Scale, or height and width ratio, of the selected texture. The values are in inches (or mm for metric plans).

    • In this example, the texture shown is mapped to a 13 1/2” x 13 1/2” area, so if the surface rendered is larger than this ratio, the surface has “tiles” of the texture that are 13 1/2” x 13 1/2”. If it is smaller, only a portion of the texture is shown.

    • Check Blend Color and Texture to blend the selected texture with a solid color, then click the Select Color button to specify the color you want to blend it with.

      Note: If you have found colors at manufacturers' websites, in digital photos, or in other files and want to incorporate these colors into your design, see the following online Help Database article. Using the Color Chooser to incorporate colors from photos or websites into your drawings

    • The Rotate Angle allows you to specify how the texture is rotated on the surface of the object(s) it is applied to.

      In some cases, you may want to create several copies of a single material, such as wood flooring, and adjust the Rotate Angle on both the Pattern and Texture tabs.

      You may find it helpful to add the rotation angle to the material's name to allow the correct material to be quickly selected from the Library.

  5. In Chief Architect X3 and newer versions of the software, select the Properties tab, which controls how the material appears in most rendered and ray traced 3D views.  The preview on the right displays the material and as the settings are changed, the preview updates.

      Suggestion: If you ever need information about the settings in a particular dialog box, click the Help button at the bottom right corner to launch Chief Architect's context sensitive help to the page that provides a detailed explanation of each option in the dialog.

    In Chief Architect X2, the options for raytracing and rendering were separated out into two different tabs.  To access them, you had to select the Render tab, which controls how the material appears in most rendered 3D views. The Advanced options provide finer control over the appearance of the rendered material than the Simple options. Click and drag a slider bar or type a value in the text field to change any of these settings. There are several properties of materials that only come into effect in Raytrace views, and the settings on the Raytrace tab of the Define Material dialog control these properties. Please note that modifying the settings on the Raytrace tab has no effect on rendered views.

    To use a bump map saved in a .zip file:

    1. Type or copy the full path name of the .zip file in the text field.

    2. Directly after the path name, type #zip:, followed immediately by the name of the bump map file including its file extension.

  6. On the Manufacturer tab, if the selected material was copied from the Manufacturer library category as our example was, the Manufacturer’s tab lists contact information.


  7. Once you have completed making changes to the image, click on the OK button to apply the change, and you are ready to use your customized material in any plan. 

    You can repeat this process to create as many copies of the materials that you need in different colors, rotations, scales, reflectivity, with various origins, etc.