Modeling Custom 3D Objects

Reference Number: KB-00761
Last Modified: November 7, 2018

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I need an object that isn't in any of the symbol libraries. Is it possible to create it using the tools available in Chief Architect?


Chief Architect has a series of drawing and editing tools that enable you to create a variety of custom 3D objects. You can also take advantage of the ability to create Architectural Blocks, which group multiple sub-objects together into a single object that can be added to the library.

If there is an object that you want to use in a plan, first look in the Library Browser to see if it already exists.

If after browsing the library and performing a Library Search, no appropriate symbol was found, then consider which tools you will need to use to create the object in Chief Architect. You can combine tools as well, for example, you might have an object that combines polyline solids with molding polylines.

There are additional content downloads available on our 3D Library, including manufacturer and extra bonus catalogs:

Once you have finished modeling your creation, you can create an architectural block that groups the separate objects into a single item. If you wish, you can add the block to the library. As you become more familiar with these techniques for creating custom 3D objects and library content, you will likely find increasingly creative ways to employ them. You can use these tools to make highly designed architectural elements, trim details, or any number of miscellaneous objects that add that perfect finishing touch to your renderings.

Also keep in mind that if what you want to create is a common furniture or fixture item, and it is not currently offered in Chief Architect's Core, Manufacturer, or Bonus catalogs, then you may be able to locate a 3D symbol in one of the supported file formats and import it in to Chief Architect directly, rather than creating it from scratch.

To learn more, see Locating and Importing 3D Symbols

Polyline Solids & other Primitives

The Primitive Tools allow you to create basic solid geometric shapes, which can be combined to create a wide variety of custom solid objects. Select Build> Primitive to display the Primitive Tools.

Polyline Solids are polyline shaped 3D objects with a specified thickness. They can be oriented either horizontally or vertically and are useful for creating custom details anywhere in your 3D model.

A horizontal polyline solid can be created in floor plan view or any 3D view by selecting Build> Primitive> Polyline Solid, then either clicking in the plan to create a square, or clicking and dragging to draw a rectangle. A vertical polyline solid can be created in a cross section/elevation view in the same manner as in floor plan view. The polyline solid is placed in front of any objects visible in the view. If no objects are behind, the polyline solid is placed one foot in front of the camera. Polyline solids can be edited in the same way as other closed polyline-based objects. 

Molding Polylines

A molding polyline is a profile shape that is extruded along a polyline path. The profile shape can be one that you have drawn, or it can be one that was included with the Chief Architect library. As their name suggests, molding polylines are great for adding moldings to a room, but the tool is versatile enough to be used for so much more.

When would we use molding polylines instead of polyline solids? Polyline solids are very useful, but they do have limitations. A polyline solid can be thought of as a shape that is extruded along an axis. Implicitly, the shape of a polyline solid is restricted to a single plane; so if you draw a polyline solid in an elevation, for example, it will look rectangular in plan view and in other elevation views that approach from a different angle.

3D Molding Polylines

The 3D Molding Polyline tool is much like the normal Molding Polyline tool discussed above, but more flexible. The molding polyline itself must be drawn in plan view, so one advantage of 3D molding polylines is that you can draw them in elevation view and create vertical moldings. Another advantage of 3D molding polylines is that they do not have to be co-planar, meaning that a given edge can go in any direction in all three dimensions.

What if you wanted to create something similar to the tapered square post we created in the Molding Polyline article, but needed it to be sitting on its side? How would you draw piping that traveled up and down and also turned 90 degrees with your walls? You would use 3D molding polylines.


Soffits are simple to use and have a number of advantages that other 3D Objects do not. For instance: they bump against walls, floor and ceiling surfaces, and other soffits rather than pass through them; their vertical positioning is measured relative to the floor height of the room they are in rather than an absolute elevation; molding profiles can be easily applied to soffits on the Moldings panel of the Soffit Specification dialog.

The Soffit is a member of the Cabinet Tools family. To place a soffit, click the Cabinet Tools parent button, then the Soffit button, and then click in the plan to place your soffit. Soffits will initially appear in the form of a 24" x 24" x 13" box. You can move, resize or rotate it in plan view by clicking to select it and then manipulating the various handles. You can also resize and reposition in any 3D view, vector or render, and cross section/elevation views.

Further editing of soffits can be done in the Soffit Specification dialog, where you can set their dimensions and height above the floor and you can even slope them. To access the Soffit Specification dialog, click on a soffit to select it, and then click the Open Object button on the Edit tool bar.

Think of the soffit as a basic building block. While their intended purpose is to fill the area above wall cabinets, they can be used to create trey ceilings, steps, wall accents, or any object that can be represented as a series of boxes.