Creating a Sign with 3D Lettering

Reference Number: KB-00709
Last Modified: February 13, 2019

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I need to create 3D signage for a structure that I am creating. What is the easiest way to go about creating this?

Exterior view of bistro cafe with letter sign


There are a variety of ways to create 3D signage for your plans, including using objects such as polyline solids, 3D molding polylines, and symbols from the Library Browser.

In this example, we will use a combination of these features along with the 3D Lettering geometric shape symbols available in the Library Browser.

To create a sign backboard using a polyline solid

  1. Launch Chief Architect and Open  the plan in which you would like to create the sign, or start a New Plan .  

  2. Select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation , then click and drag a camera arrow in the direction of your structure.    

  3. Select Build> Primitive> Polyline Solid , then click and drag to draw a rectangular shape. This shape will become the backboard of your sign. 

    Polyline Solid drawn on a wall in an elevation view

  4. With the polyline solid still selected, click on the Break Line edit tool, then click the edge to create a new corner edit handle at that location and two separate edges on either side of that handle.  

  5. Repeat this process on the other side of the corner to place another diamond shaped edit handle.  

    Break Line used at two places at corner of polyline solid

  6. Select the corner's diamond edit handle, and drag it down to the lower break that you have created.  

    Corner of polyline solid pulled down to one of the break line points

  7. With the 90° corner replaced by an angle, or miter, select this new angled edge and click the Change Line/Arc  edit tool.  

    Use Change Line Arc button on edit toolbar to change the diagonal line to an arc

  8. Using the triangular Reshape Arc edit handle, click and drag the arc towards the interior of the polyline solid shape.  

    Arc moved to inside of polyline solid creating a rounded cut at the corner

  9. Repeat this process for the remaining three corners of your polyline solid.  

    Whole polyline solid showing rounded cuts at all four corners

  10. Using the Select Objects  tool, select the Polyline Solid and click the Open Object  edit button to display the Polyline Solid Specification dialog.  

  11. On the Materials panel of the Polyline Solid Specification dialog, select the "Polyline Solid" subcategory, then click on the Select Material button to choose a material for the back of your sign.

To create a frame using a 3D molding polyline

  1. Using the Select Objects  tool, select the polyline solid.  

  2. Click on the Copy and Paste in Place  edit button.  

  3. A newly created copy of the polyline solid is created and will be selected. While it is still selected, click the Convert to Plain Polyline  edit tool. 

  4. The copy of the polyline solid will be converted into a plain polyline and will still be selected. With it still selected, click the Convert Polyline  edit button.  

  5. In the Convert Polyline dialog, select the radio button next to 3D Molding Polyline, then click OK.

    Convert Polyline dialog with 3D Molding Polyline selected

  6. On the Moldings panel of the 3D Molding Polyline Specification dialog that opens next, notice that by default, a plain square molding is chosen. 

    3D Molding Polyline Specification with CR-03 molding selected

    • To choose a different profile, click the Replace button to select a more suitable molding profile from the library.  

    • For the purposes of our example, we chose the CR-03 chair rail molding. 

  7. Next, go to the Materials panel to choose an appropriate material for the frame of your sign, then click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes. 

    Polyline Solid with 3D molding all around perimeter


To place 3D letters into the model

  1. Select View> Library Browser .  

  2. Browse to the 3D Lettering Bonus Catalog in your library browser and choose the necessary letters in the desired style. 

    Library Browser with 3D Lettering open under Chief Architect Bonus Catalogs

    You can download the 3D Lettering Bonus Catalog from the Chief Architect 3D Library as long as your Support and Software Assurance is current. 

  3. Take a Camera view looking at your sign, and place each desired letter into the appropriate position in the view to spell out the name you want to create.  

    Lil' Bistro sign with border

  4. Finally, don't forget to Save  your work.