Customizing a Library Material

Reference Number: KB-01006
Last Modified: June 25, 2018

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I found a material in Chief Architect's library that I want to modify. However, if I use the rainbow tool in a camera view to change the material's pattern in Vector Views, or its texture in Standard rendered views, it changes all instances of that material in my plan, and it does not save my changes in the library.

How can I make a customized library material that I can use in future plans?


Much like objects, materials in Chief Architect can be edited so that they better suit your design needs. The Adjust Material Definition tool is useful for quickly changing plan materials directly from a 3D view, however, changing a material definition with this tool affects all objects in the current plan that are using that material. It does not affect any materials saved in the library or materials used in other plans, though, so it is not useful if you want to be able to edit the material on just a single object, or reuse the altered material in the future.

If you wish to customize a material that you see in the Library Browser, and make those changes available for use in other plans or for exporting, begin by creating a copy of the material and then modify it as needed.

Note: Manufacturer symbols are limited in the ways that they can be edited. After such a symbol is placed in a plan, select it and click the Remove Manufacturer Lock  edit button to remove the manufacturer data so that it can be edited like other symbols.

Bear in mind that while you can customize a manufacturer's material in a wide variety of ways, the end result may not be something that the manufacturer can actually provide.

If you have modified a material in a plan and wish to add it to the library for future use, you can do so by following these steps.

To save a modified material in a plan to the Library Browser

  1. Create a 3D view of an object using your modified material, click the Select Objects button, then click on the object to select it.

  2. Click the Open Object edit button to open the object's specification dialog and go to the Materials panel.

    • Select the component that has your modified material applied to it from the list on the left side of the dialog box.

    • Click the Select Material button to open the Select Material dialog.

      In X6 and prior click the Plan Material button.

    • In the Select Material dialog Select the Plan Material panel.

  3. Scroll down the list of plan materials on the left and confirm that your modified material is the selected material, then click the Add to Library button on the lower right side of the dialog.

    • Your modified material will be added to the Library Browser

    • Click OK to close the Plan Materials dialog, then click OK once more to close the selected object's specification dialog.

  4. The copy of you material can now be found in your User Catalog.

    • You may find it helpful to create a new folder specifically for modified library materials.

To create a copy of a library material

  1. Select View> Library Browser to display the Library Browser if it is not already displayed.

  2. Browse to the material that you would like to make changes to.

    • For the purposes of this example, DaleTile> Ceramic> Emblem> Gray EM03 is used. 

  3. Right-click on the material and choose Copy from the contextual menu.

    You can also right-click on your user catalog and select New> Material  to create a new material from an image file saved on your computer and edit it in the same manner as described in this article.

  4. Browse to the User Catalog, right-click on either the category name, or a folder within it, and select Paste.

    • The pasted copy of the original material is now ready to be modified. 

    • Note that when pasted, it retains the same material name as the original which we copied it from.

Materials can appear in up to three different types of 3D views, as well as in the Materials List.

You can control how your custom material's pattern looks in 3D views using the Technical Illustration, Line Drawing and Vector View rendering techniques; how its texture looks in views using the Standard, Enhanced Lighting, Duotone, Painting and Watercolor rendering techniques; and how it looks in Raytrace views. Finally, you can also specify how the material is counted or calculated in the Materials List.

To customize a material in the User Catalog

  1. Right-click on the newly pasted material and select Open Object to display the Define Material dialog.

  2. On the General panel, type a short, descriptive new name for the custom material. This name will display in the Library Browser. For the purposes of this example, we will call the new material Tile Mosaic - Third Running.

    • The settings on the General panel primarily affect how the material will be counted and appear in the Materials List.  If you are only making cosmetic changes to the selected material, leave its Type unchanged.

    • You can also specify the Material Color and Pattern Line Color here, for the purposes of our example a blue color is chosen. These colors will be seen in 3D views such as Orthographic and Cross Section/Elevation views, in which materials are represented using patterns, rather than textures.

  3. Select the Pattern panel.

    Materials have two attributes that determine what they look like in 3D views, patterns and textures.

    The Pattern panel addresses how patterns display. Patterns are composed of CAD lines and are used to represent materials in 3D views using the Technical Illustration, Line Drawing and Vector View rendering techniques.

    • Chief Architect provides a number of .pat files with various patterns in them. For the purposes of this example, select Use Custom Pattern File, then click on the Browse button to browse to the Chief Architect Premier Data> Patterns folder.

    • Select ChiefBrick.pat and click Open.

    • Use the Pattern drop down menu to select 26-BRK_Third which is a 1/3 running bond brick or tile type pattern.

    • Change its scale so that it more closely matches the texture, if needed.

    • Use the drop-down to change the preview to the Vector Rendering technique so that you can see changes made to the pattern in the preview.

      Note: Both patterns and textures are assigned origins, which determine where the pattern or texture begins on an X/Y axis. Depending on the placement of a particular object relative to this origin, a material applied to it may not look right in 3D. You can address this by specifying a new origin for the material’s pattern and/or texture. By default, this origin is 0,0 for the Horizontal and Vertical Offset. 

      For directions on determining the origin, see the "Mapping Patterns and Textures" section in the Materials chapter of the Chief Architect Reference Manual, available under the software's Help menu.

  4. Next, select the Texture panel. In most Rendering Techniques, materials are represented by textures. However, the preview of the selected texture is as it appears using the Standard Rendering Technique. As the settings are changed, the preview updates.

    • You have the ability here to adjust the Scale, or height and width ratio, of the selected texture. The values are in inches (or mm for metric plans).

    • You can check Blend Color and Texture to blend the selected texture with a solid color, then click the Select Color button to specify the color you want to blend it with.

      Note: If you have found colors at manufacturers' websites, in digital photos, or in other files and want to incorporate these colors into your design, see article the article on Using the Color Chooser Tool listed in the Related Articles section below.

    • The Rotate Angle allows you to specify how the texture is rotated on the surface of the object(s) it is applied to. In some cases, you may want to create several copies of a single material, such as wood flooring, and adjust the Rotate Angle on both the Pattern and Texture panels.

      You may find it helpful to add the rotation angle to the material's name to allow the correct material to be quickly selected from the Library.

  5. Select the Properties panel, which controls how the material appears in most rendered and ray traced 3D views. The preview on the right displays the material and as the settings are changed, the preview updates.

    If you ever need information about the settings in a particular dialog box, click the Help button at the bottom right corner to launch Chief Architect's context sensitive help to the page that provides a detailed explanation of each option in the dialog.

    In Chief Architect X2, the options for ray tracing and rendering were separated out into two different panels. To access them, you had to select the Render panel, which controls how the material appears in most rendered 3D views.The Advanced options provide finer control over the appearance of the rendered material than the Simple options. Click and drag a slider bar or type a value in the text field to change any of these settings. There are several properties of materials that only come into effect in Ray trace views, and the settings on the Ray trace panel of the Define Material dialog control these properties. Please note that modifying the settings on the Ray trace panel has no effect on rendered views.

  6. On the Manufacturer panel, if the selected material was copied from the Manufacturer library category as our example was, the Manufacturer panel will list contact information.

  7. Once you have completed making changes to the image, click on the OK button to apply the change, and you are ready to use your customized material in any plan.

    You can repeat this process to create as many copies of the materials that you need in different colors, rotations, scales, reflectivity, with various origins, etc.