Chief Architect Help Database - Article Number: 769
How to draw an arched soldier courseThe information in this article applies to:
- Chief Architect X1
- Chief Architect 10 Full
I need to create an arched soldier course. How do I draw this accurately in Chief Architect?
An arched soldier course can be drawn with a series of polyline solids and CAD editing techniques. We will demonstrate this procedure with the example of a window with an arched top.
This article will be most appropriate if you are working in a plan that uses a brick wall. The Brick-6 wall type works well.
Placing and editing the window
To create an arched window
- To begin, use the Cross Section/Elevation tool to create an elevation view of the wall.
- Click the Window Tools parent button. The Window child tool will already be activated.
- Click on the wall to place the window.
- Once the window is placed, click the Select Objects button and then double-click on the newly-placed window.
- In the Window Specification dialog:
- On the General tab, click the Window Type drop-down list and select Fixed Glass from the list.
- Also on the General tab, specify the Width and Height of the window. In this example, the Width is set at 36 inches and the Height at 48.
- On the Arch tab, change the Type to Broken Arch and specify a Height of 6.
- On the Casing tab, click the Exterior radio button, check Suppress Casing and uncheck Sill if it is checked.
- Lastly, and purely for decoration, go to the Lites tab and set Lites Across to 2 and Lites Vertical to 3.
- Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.
Preparing to draw the soldier course
- Still in the cross section/elevation view, switch to Low Detail Mode by selecting 3D> Low Detail Mode . Switching to Low Detail Mode will make it easier to see the lines that will be drawn in the next steps.
- Switch to CAD mode by clickin the CAD Configuration button .
- Turn off grid snaps by clicking the Grid Snaps button. If grid snaps are already off, then simply leave the button alone. Also, make sure that Angles Snaps and Object Snaps are on and make sure that you have, at a minimum, the Endpoint , Midpoint and Center object snaps on.
- It is easier to see the CAD snap indicators by turning off color. If the elevation view is currently in color, go to Tools> Display Settings> Color off to remove color.
In Chief Architect version 10 and prior, use Tools> Color Off.
Drawing the bricks for the soldier course
To draw a reference arc
- Zoom in closely on the arch of the window.
- Click the Arc Tools parent button.
- Choose the Start/End/On Arc child tool.
- Starting at the left of the window's arch, click and drag straight across the window and release the button when you are on the opposite side of where you started.
- Next, move the mouse pointer to the top of the window's arch and click when our new arc matches arch of the window.
To draw a polyline to represent a brick
- Select the Box Tools parent button and then the Rectangular Polyline tool should already be activated.
- Click and drag somewhere above the window to draw a rectangular polyline about the size of a brick.
- Once drawn, we can resize the polyline to match our exact specifications. We will make it 2 1/4 inches by 7 1/2 inches.
To align the polyline to the top of the window
- Select our new polyline.
- On the Edit tool bar, click the Pt to Pt Move button.
- Move the mouse pointer over the bottom edge of the polyline and click when you see the triangular midpoint snap indicator.
- Move over to the top of the arc and click again when you see the midpoint indicator there.
To place a point at the center of the reference arc
- Once the first brick is drawn, zoom out until you can see the entire window.
- Select CAD> Edit Settings> Display Arc Centers . This places a cross at the center point of the arc.
- Click the Point Tools parent button, which should also activate the Place Point tool.
- Move the mouse pointer over the cross at the center of the arc and click to place a point when you see the circular center snap indicator.
- Next turn off Display Arc Centers by clicking on the same item from the menu as before.
To replicate the brick polyline
- Select the rectangular polyline that represents the brick.
- Click the Transform/Replicate Object button on the Edit tool bar.
- In the Transform/Replicate Object dialog, check Copy and set Number of Copies to 7.
- Check Rotate, set Angle to 5 and select the Relative Angle radio button.
The angle of 5 degrees works well here because of the size of our bricks and the radius of the arc. If you have an arc with a larger radius, or are using smaller bricks or want them closer together, decrease the angle. If you have an arc with a smaller radius, or you want the bricks further apart, increase the angle.
- At the bottom, under Rotate / Resize / Reflect About, select the About Current Point radio button.
- Click OK when you are finished. This should produce an array of polylines, or bricks, that follow the arc to the left.
- Select the original polyline at the top of the arc again, and once more click the Transform/Replicate Object button.
- Using the same settings as before, and this time use -5 for Angle (notice the negative polarity).
- Click OK when you are finished. We now have the polylines for all 15 of the bricks that make up our soldier course!
To convert the polylines into polyline solids
- Click the polyline on the very left to select it.
- Hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and click once on each of the other 14 polylines. You now have a group selection of all of the rectangular polylines.
- Click the Convert Polyline button on the Edit tool bar.
- In the Convert Polyline dialog, select the Polyline Solid radio button then click OK.
- In the Polyline Solid Specification dialog, go to the General tab and set Thickness to 3 1/2.
- Click OK to close the dialog and finish converting the 15 polylines into polyline solid bricks.
To align the polyline solids with the wall surface
- Return to the floor plan view by clicking the Swap Views button.
- Zoom in closely on the window and notice a series of rectangles in front of the window. These rectangles are the individual bricks in our soldier course.
- Click the Select Objects button.
- Hold down the Shift key on the keyboard as you click and drag a rectangular marquee that touches the front of each polyline solid, or brick.
- Click the Objects Snaps button to turn them off.
- With this group selection, click on the move handle and drag in towards the wall until the back of the polyline solids line up with the back of the brick layer of the wall.*
*Note: There are other ways to precisely position these polyline solids. Once you have selected them, you can use the Transform/Replicate Object tool or the Pt to Pt Move tool to perfectly align them with the wall.
- Now that we've drawn and aligned our bricks, let's use the Render Full Camera so we can examine our creation in 3D.
- We see immediately that we are going to have to do something about the material color of our bricks, but we will address that later.
- Another problem that we see is that there is no mortar and we can see the brick wall in the gaps between our soldier course bricks. This can be fixed by creating one more polyline solid.
Drawing the mortar for the soldier course
Let's close the render view and return to our elevation. We never closed the elevation, so we should still be able to access it from the Window menu. If you cannot, and the cross section camera was not saved, then simply create a new elevation using the Cross Section/Elevation tool.
To draw an arc at the top of the soldier course
- Let's Zoom in closely on the soldier course.
- Switch to CAD mode if you are not already in it (CAD> CAD Mode On ).
- Click the Objects Snaps button to turn them back on. (Remember, we turned them off earlier.)
- Select the Arc Tools parent button and then the Start/End/On Arc child tool.
- Move the mouse pointer to the top left corner of the brick on the left.
- When you see the square endpoint snap indicator, click and drag straight across to the top right corner of the brick on the right, and release the mouse button when you see the endpoint indicator on that side.
- Move the mouse to the midpoint of the top edge of the center brick (our original polyline), and click again when you see the midpoint snap indicator. This creates an arc that follows the top of the soldier course.
To complete a closed polyline that outlines the soldier course
- Select the reference arc we drew at the beginning, which now sits at the bottom of the soldier course, and delete it. It will get in our way.
- Repeat the previous steps for the bottom of the soldier course; again using the Start/End/On Arc tool along with the endpoint and midpoint CAD snap indicators.
- You should now have two arcs. One that follows the top of the course and one that follows the bottom.
- Click the Line Tools parent button, which also activates the Draw Line tool.
- Draw a line that connects the endpoints of the left side of the top and bottom arcs. Incidentally, this line also follows the left edge of the brick.
- Do the same for the right side.
- This should form a closed polyline with our two arcs and two straight lines that follows the perimeter of the soldier course.
To resize the mortar polyline and convert it to a polyline solid
- Click on the top edge of this new closed polyline to select it.
- From the CAD menu, select CAD> Edit Settings> Concentric .
- Click the Objects Snaps button to turn them off.
- We want to make the polyline slightly smaller than the soldier course. Click on a handle at one of the corners of the polyline and drag inward to resize the polyline concentrically.
- Once adjusted to a size appropriate for the area of the mortar, click the Convert Polyline button on the Edit Tool bar.
- Just like we did before, select Polyline Solid in the Convert Polyline dialog and click OK.
- In the Polyline Solid Specification, go to the General tab and set Thickness to 3 1/4.
To position the mortar polyline solid in plan view
- Click the Swap Views button to return to the plan view.
- We see a new rectangle that is our latest polyline solid. We need to move it into position.
- Click it to select it.
- Hold down the Shift key and click it a second time. While we could move the polyline solid without selecting it twice to form a multiple selection, doing this introduces a movement restriction that is useful for us.*
- Click the move handle and drag the selection into the wall until the back side of the polyline solid meets the back side of the other polyline solids at the brick layer of the wall.
You may have noticed when you moved the selection that it moved in a perfect line, even if you did not drag the mouse perfectly straight! This is because we moved the polyline solid as a multiple selection. (Remember, we held down the Shift key to select it a second time.) Also, you did not have to hold down the Ctrl key to override movement restrictions like you might be used to having to do with other edits.
You'll recall that we did it the same way with our first group of polyline solids (the 15 bricks), but that time it was required because we needed to move several objects at once. Moving as a multiple selection isn't as obvious when working with a single polyline solid.
It's time to use the Render Full Camera tool to look at this in 3D. You can create a new material that uses a solid color or a texture that matches the brick. Applying one of the brick wall materials from the Masonry library will not work well because the textures for those materials show the mortar lines.
For further information on creating new materials, please see the following article:
Replicating the soldier course
"Do I have to do this again for each window?" you ask. Certainly not. If you form an architectural block from our polyline solids, then you can move or copy it, even add it to the library, as a single unit.
To create an architectural block
- Return to the cross section/elevation view and select the polyline solid that represents the mortar.
- Hold down the Shift key as you click on the polyline for each of the bricks.
- On the Edit tool bar, click the Make Architectural Block button.
You have now formed an architectural block, which gives you the following abilities:
- If you need to move the window, you can now easily reposition the entire soldier course to follow.
- If you want to replicate the soldier course for a second window, or any other opening, select it and you can use either the Copy/Paste or Transform/Replicate Object tool.
- You can add it to the library by selecting it and clicking the Add to Library button.
Augmenting the procedure
In practice, your soldier course will not always be identical to the one we have created here. The above procedure can be modified to work with different types of openings and different dimensions.
Changing the size of the bricks, you can create a row lock course and also add a sill:
Adding a keystone is an easy modification:
You might also be interested in these other articles:
Article Number 797: How to create a soldier course molding for a window casing and sill using a symbol molding
Article 761: How to model custom 3D objects in Chief Architect
Article 565: How do I create a polyline solid with an arc in it?
Last updated on: Jun 17, 2010