Creating a Soldier Course

Reference Number: KB-00797
Last Modified: July 15, 2021

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


How do I create a brick soldier course around a window and a sloped brick sill using the symbol moldings in Chief Architect? 

A house with soldier course trimmed windows


A soldier course is a set of vertical bricks lined up in a row with the narrow edge facing outward. These can be modeled in Chief Architect using a Symbol Molding.

This article covers:

To create a basic brick with mortar

  1. Select File> New Plan  from the menu to open a brand new, blank plan file.  

  2. Select View> Library Browser  from the menu, then browse the Library to Chief Architect Core Catalogs> CAD Blocks> Detail Components> Brick and choose a brick style from one of the many choices in this section, then click in the plan to place a copy.   

    • This is used as a template for the size that will be used during construction. If you have a custom size, simply draw it using CAD tools.  

    • In this example "Engineer modular (depth)" is used.

      Rectangle for brick 7 5/8 by 2 13/16 with 3/8 inch mortar on one side

  3. Using the Select Objects  tool, click on the CAD block to select it and click the Explode CAD Block  edit button to break the block into its individual components.   

  4. Select the mortar and brick sections in turn and click the Convert Polyline  edit button to display the Convert Polyline dialog, then move the radio button to Polyline Solid and click OK to display the Polyline Solid Specification dialog.

  5. For the polyline solid which will be representing the mortar:

    Polyline Solid Specification dialog with 3 1/8 set for Thickness and an Elevation at Top set to -1/4 inch

    • On the General panel, set the polyline solid's Thickness to 3 1/8".

    • Set the Elevation at Top to -1/4".

    • On the Materials panel, choose an appropriate material for the Mortar.

      For the purposes of this example, the default Concrete material is used.

    • Click OK to apply these changes and close the dialog

  6. For the polyline solid which will be representing the brick:

    Polyline Solid Specification dialog with 3 5/8 set for Thickness and zero set for Elevation at top

    • On the General panel, set the polyline solid's Thickness to 3 5/8".

    • Set the Elevation at Top to 0".

    • On the Materials panel, choose an appropriate material for your brick.

      For the purposes of this example, the material is set to "9645 Local Legend - 273 Brick Dust," which can be found in the Mohawk® manufacturer catalog.

    • Click OK to apply these changes and close the Polyline Solid Specification dialog.

  7. The result should look like this:

    2D display and 3D display of brick with mortar

To create brick molding symbol

  1. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Full Overview  from the menu to create a 3D view of the polyline solids making up the brick and mortar.

  2. Select Tools> Symbol> Convert to Symbol .

    Convert To Symbol dialog with Molding set for the Symbol Category and both options checked

    • Choose the symbol category of Molding.

    • Check Add to Library.

    • Check Show Advanced Options.

    • Click OK.

  3. For use as a soldier course, the symbol needs to be rotated, so in the the Symbol Specification dialog:

    Symbol Specification dialog showing preview of symbol rotated including x, y and z origin

    • On the 3D panel, under Rotation, move the radio button to Y, leave the Angle set to 90 degrees, then click Rotate + once.

    • Move the radio button to Z, leave the Angle set to 90 degrees, and click Rotate + once more.

    • After rotating the symbol, under Origin Offset, set the X, Y and Z Positions all to 0". Visually display the symbol's origin by clicking the Show Origin  button located in the top right corner of the dialog above the 3D preview.

    • Give the symbol a descriptive name, then click OK to add it to the User Catalog.

  • Now that this molding has been added to the User Catalog, use the Build> Trim> 3D Molding Line  tool with this molding applied in a Cross Section/Elevation  view to quickly create a soldier course around a door or window.

    Brick molding applied around top and sides of window

    A selection of Keystone symbols can be located in the Library Browser in the Architectural > Millwork folder.

  • Using the components created earlier, it is possible to create a sloped sill. The next section walks through creating the angled sill as an Architectural Block, which can be added to the Library for use in future plans and exploded to make modifications to the individual solid objects so that there is not mortar left on the outside of one of the brick edges.

    To create an angled sill*

    *Applies to Chief Architect Premier Only.

    1. First, rotate the brick and mortar components at an angle equal to the slope necessary for the sill.

      In this example, a slope of 1/4" in 12" is used.

    2. In order to rotate the polyline solids, convert each to a solid object. Select each of the objects and click the Convert to Solid  edit button.  

    3. Next, select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation  from the menu, then click and drag a cross section camera arrow towards the components as shown below.  

      Elevation 1 camera marker and symbol of brick with mortar

    4. Select the concrete solid which represents the mortar, then hold down the Shift key and click on the solid which represents the brick to group-select them both. The Status Bar should reflect "2 objects currently selected" near the lower left.

    5. Click and hold on the object's triangular edit handle and press the Tab key on the keyboard to display the Enter Coordinates dialog.

      Enter Coordianates dialog with Relative to Start selected, Polar selected and 3/8 inch for Distance and .25 in 12 set for Angle

      • Click the Number Style button, change the Angle Style to Pitch and click OK.  

      • Select Relative to Start and check the box beside Polar.

      • Specify the Distance as 3/8".

      • Specify the Angle as .25 in 12, then click OK.  

    6. Close the Cross Section/Elevation View to return to floor plan view.

    7. In floor plan, use the Select Objects  tool to drag a marquee around the two solids to group-select them, click on the Multiple Copy  edit button, then select the Multiple Copy Interval  edit tool.

    8. In the Multiple Copy dialog, select Offset Between Copies When Dragging and to the right of General Objects, set the Primary Offset to 3 3/16" (the thickness of the solids representing the brick and mortar), click OK, then use the center edit handle to drag up or down and create several copies of the brick and mortar.

      Vertical stack of six bricks and multiple copy symbol

    9. Once you have the desired number of bricks copied, select the solid representing the mortar from the end and Delete  it.

    10.  Next, drag a marquee around all of the solids to group-select them, and click on the Make Architectural Block  edit tool.

    11. Finally, click on the Add to Library  edit button to add the block to your Library Browser so that you can use it in future plans, and explode it if needed to add or remove brick and mortar elements.

      Window surrounded with brick including an angled brick sill

      You can also rename this Architectural Block to Angled Sill in your User Catalog to allow for easily finding it using the Library Search feature.

    A similar method can be used to create an arched soldier course over a round top window.

    To create an arched solider course

    1. Open the plan with the arched window, then take a Cross Section/Elevation View  of the window.

    2. Select CAD> Arcs> Draw Arc , then draw in an arc matching the top of the window.

      Orange arc drawn at top of rounded top window

      It may be helpful to change the color of this line so it is more easily visible in the view. For the purposes of this example, the line has been changed to an orange color.

    3. Next, select View> Arc Centers and Ends  to toggle the display of Arc centers on, then go to CAD> Points> Place Point  and click to place a temporary point where the Arc Center is located.

      Arc center displayed and a point placed at the arc center

      You should then select View> Arc Centers and Ends   to toggle the display of Arc centers back off.

    4. Next, select CAD> Boxes> Rectangular Polyline  and draw a rectangle that represents the top brick in the solider course, centering it above the window.

      2 1/4 by 7 5/8 polyline box for first brick centered above window tangent to orange arc drawn earlier

      It may be helpful to apply a Solid Fill to the polyline, as shown in the example above in red.

    5. Using the Select Objects  tool, select the CAD polyline and click on the Transform/Replicate  edit button.

    6. In the Transform/Replicate dialog:

      Transform / Replicate Object dialog with Copy and Rotate checked, showing 8 copies and 5 degree Relative Angle, and About Current Point option selected

      • Place a checkmark next to Copy and specify the number of copies of this polyline to create.

        For the purposes of this example, a value of 8 is used.

      • Place a checkmark next to Rotate and set the angle.

        For the purposes of this example, a value of 5° works well, though this value will vary based on the size of the rectangular polyline and radius of the arc.

      • Under Rotate/Resize/Reflect About, move the radio button to About Current Point, then click OK.

    7. Now observe rectangular polylines replicated along one side of the arc, as shown in the image below.

      Window showing original and eight copies of brick curved down to the left

    8. Select the top rectangular polyline again and use this same method to replicate rectangular polylines along the right side, this time specifying a value of -5° for the Rotate value.

      Window showing all the bricks arched across top of CAD arc

    9. Select the polyline furthest to the left, then hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click to select all of the remaining rectangular polylines to group-select them.

    10. Click on the Convert Polyline   edit tool, move the radio button to Polyline Solid then click OK to display the Polyline Solid Specification dialog.

      • On the General panel, set the Thickness to 3 1/2".

      • On the Materials panel, set an appropriate brick material.

      • Click OK to complete converting all of the 2D CAD polylines into Polyline Solid 3D objects.

  • It may be helpful at this point to minimize the Cross Section/Elevation view and take a normal Full Camera view of the design to see the progress thus far.

    Full Camera View showing bricks over rounded top of window

  • Once the polyline solids which represent the brick has been created, an arched polyline solid needs to be created to represent the mortar.

    To create an arched polyline solid

    1. From the Window menu click on the Cross Section/Elevation view listed near the bottom to reopen this view.

    2. Next, select CAD> Boxes> Rectangular Polyline  and draw a rectangular polyline over the polyline solids.

    3. Once created, use the Select Objects  tool to select the top of the new rectangular polyline, and click on the Change Line/Arc  edit button, then repeat this process on the bottom segment of the rectangular polyline so that you have an arc at the top and bottom, and two straight lines on either side.

    4. Using its edit handles, reshape this closed polyline so that it extends within the rectangular bricks, as shown in the image below.

      Polyline rectangle curved and reshaped to cover bricks

    5. Once resized, click on the Convert Polyline  edit tool and convert this arched polyline in to another Polyline Solid.  

    6. As before, choose an appropriate Thickness and Material for the mortar, then click OK.

    7. Finally, use the Shift key on the keyboard and click to select all of the polyline solids for both the brick and the mortar, then click the Make Architectural Block  edit button to group all of these elements together.

      If you will frequently be needing an arched soldier course this size, you may also want to use the Add to Library edit tool with the Architectural Block selected to add it to the Library Browser in the User Catalog for future use.

    8. Take a Camera  view to see the results.

      Full Camera View with bricks showing through cement mortar above round top window