Tracing Over an Imported File to Create a 3D Floorplan

Reference Number: KB-00018
Last Modified: July 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


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 and PDFs 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

To import a PDF

To resize image

To hide or remove the image

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.

To import a PDF file

  1. Open a new plan and select File> Import> Import PDF  from the menu.

  2. Browse to where the file is located and click Open.

  3. In the Import PDF dialog choose which page of the PDF to import and click OK.

  4. When a PDF is imported it will be in the Front Drawing Group. In order to draw over the top of the PDF it needs to be moved to the back group.

    To move the PDF to the Back Drawing Group, select the PDF in the plan and then click Open Object .

  5. On the Line Style panel of the PDF Box Specification dialog click the Back Group radio button and then click OK.

To resize the image

  1.  Locate two walls or other objects in the image that you know the exact size of in the X and Y axes and make a note of their length.

  2. Select the picture or PDF and then click the Point to Point Resize  button from the Edit Toolbar.

  3. Choose two points on the image between which you know the distance. Click the first point and then click the second point. 

  4. In the Point to Point Resize dialog that opens next type in the distance between the two points you selected in step 3.

  5. Repeat this process for the opposite axis.

  6. 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.

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

To hide or remove the image

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

  2. 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. 

  3. On the Line Style panel of the the Picture File Box Specification (Or PDF Box Specification) dialog, note that the selected picture is located on the "CAD, Default" layer, then click the Define button to the right of the Layer drop-down list.

  4. 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 Disp column for this layer.

    • Click OK to close the Layer Display Options dialog.

    • Your new layer will be selected in the Picture File or PDF 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.