Creating a Soldier Course

Reference Number: KB-00797
Last Modified: June 14, 2023

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 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.

      Engineer modular (depth) CAD block located within the Core Catalogs

  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 portion, click the Convert Polyline  edit button to display the Convert Polyline dialog, move the radio button to 3D Solid, then click OK.

    In legacy versions, select the Polyline Solid option instead.

    3D Solid option selected in the Convert Polyline dialog

  5. In the 3D Solid Specification dialog that opens next:

    3D Solid panel of the 3D Solid Specification dialog for the mortar

    • On the 3D Solid panel, set the Height to 3 1/8".

      In legacy versions, access the General panel and adjust the Thickness instead.

    • Set the Elevation at Bottom or Finished Floor to Bottom 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. Repeat Step 4 for the brick portion, and in the 3D Solid Specification dialog that opens:

    3D Solid Panel of the 3D Solid Specification dialog for the brick

    • On the 3D Solid panel, set the Height to 3 5/8".

    • 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 dialog.

  7. The result should now look like this:

    3D display of brick with mortar

To create a brick and mortar molding symbol

  1. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Perspective Full Overview  from the menu to create a 3D view of the 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

    • Specify a Symbol Name.

    • Using the Symbol Category drop-down, select Molding.

    • Check Add to Library and 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 that opens next:

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

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

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

    • After rotating the symbol, under the Origin Offset section, set the X, Y and Z Positions all to 0".

    • Click OK to close the dialog and the symbol will be added to the User Catalog.

  • With this molding now added to your User Catalog, you can use the Build> Trim> 3D Molding Line  tool with this molding profile applied in a Cross Section/Elevation  view to quickly create a soldier course around a door or window.

    Once the molding profile is applied to the molding line or polyline, the Width, Height, and Repeat Distance values may need to be adjusted. In this example, the Width is set to 3 5/8", the Height is set to 7 5/8", and the Repeat Distance is set to 3 3/16".

    Brick molding applied around top and sides of window

    Moldings panel of the 3D Molding Polyline Specification dialog

    A selection of Keystone symbols can be located in the Library Browser by navigating to Chief Architect Core Catalogs> Architectural> Millwork> Keystones.

  • Using the components created earlier, it is possible to create a sloped/angled 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.

    To create an angled sill

    1. We will now rotate the brick and mortar components at an angle equal to the slope necessary for the sill. To start, 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. 

      In legacy versions, you may need to convert the polyline solids that make up the brick to standard solids using the Convert to Solid edit button.

      Elevation 1 camera callout and symbol of brick with mortar

    2. 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.

    3. 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 your desired Distance.

        In this example, a value of 3/8" is specified.

      • Specify the desired Angle.

        In this example, a value of 1/4 in 12 is specified.

      • Click the Number Style button again, change the Angle Style back to Degrees and click OK

      • Click OK.  

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

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

    6. 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", 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

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

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

    9. This architectural block can now be rotated and placed along your window.

      Window surrounded with brick including an angled brick sill

    10. To use this in future plans, click the Add to Library  edit button to add it to your Library Browser where it can then be renamed to your liking.

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

    To create the brick portion of 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.

      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.

      Orange arc drawn at top of rounded top window

    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.

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

      Polyline representing a brick generated at the top of the window

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

    6. In the Transform/Replicate Object 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 check next to Copy and specify the number of copies you want to create.

        In this example, a value of 8 is specified.

      • Place a check next to Rotate and set the Angle.

        In 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 3D Solid, then click OK.

      In legacy versions, select the Polyline Solid option instead.

      • On the 3D Block panel of the Specification dialog that displays next, specify an appropriate Depth.

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

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

  • It may be helpful at this point to minimize the Cross Section/Elevation view and take a 3D Camera view of the design to see the progress thus far.

    Full Camera View showing bricks over rounded top of window

  • Once the 3D solids which represent the brick have been created, an arched 3D solid needs to be created to represent the mortar.

    To create the mortar portion of an arched soldier course

    1. Create or open a Cross Section/Elevation view looking at the window

    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 into another 3D solid.  

    6. Choose an appropriate Depth and Material for the mortar, then click OK.

    7. Finally, use the Shift key on the keyboard and click to select all of the solids for both the brick and 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 of this size, you may also want to use the Add to Library edit tool with the Architectural Block selected to add it to the User Catalog for future use.

    8. Lastly, take a Camera  view to see the results.

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