Tracing Over an Imported File to Create a 3D Floorplan

Reference Number: KB-00018
Last Modified: December 12, 2018

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors

Home Designer Professional


My photograph has dimensions on it, and I would like to import it into Chief Architect and use it to create a 1:1 scale drawing. How do I do this?


There isn't a way to convert a digital image into a 3D model in Chief Architect; however, you can use an image of a floor plan as a template to trace over. Imported images and PDFs are not scaled drawings, so in order to produce an accurate model, you will need to make some adjustments to your drawing.

To import a picture

To import a PDF

To resize image

To hide or remove the image

To import a picture of a floor plan

The picture file that will be used should be saved in the same folder on your computer as the plan file you want it to appear in.

  1. Launch Chief Architect and open a New Plan .

  2. From the menu select File> Import> Import Picture to open the Import Picture File dialog.

    Import Picture File dialog - selecting a file

  • Browse to the picture file that you would like to import, click on its name to select it, then click the Open button.

  • The image will now be visible in the center of the drawing area.
Note: When an image is imported, it will be in the Back Drawing Group allowing you the ability to draw on top of it using the Chief Architect tools.

You can change the Drawing Group of an imported image by first selecting the imported image, and then selecting the View Drawing Order Edit Tools edit button on the Edit Toolbar.

To import a PDF file

  1. Open a new plan and select File> Import> Import PDF  from the menu.

  2. Browse to where the file is located and click Open.

  3. In the Import PDF dialog choose which page of the PDF to import and click OK.

    Import PDF dialog - selecting what pages ro import

Note: When a PDF is imported, it will be in the Back Drawing Group allowing you the ability to draw on top of it using the Chief Architect tools. 

You can change the Drawing Group of an imported PDF by first selecting the imported PDF file, and then selecting the View Drawing Order Edit Tools edit button on the Edit Toolbar.

To resize the image/PDF

  1. Locate two walls or other objects in the image that you know the exact size of in the X and Y axes and make a note of their length.

  2. Select the picture or PDF and then click the Point to Point Resize  edit button located on the Edit Toolbar.

  3. Choose two points on the image between which you know the distance. Click the first point and then click the second point.

  4. In the Point to Point Resize dialog that opens next, type in the distance between the two points you selected in step 3.

    Point to Point Resize dialog - entering the distance between two points

  5. Repeat this process for the opposite axis.

    For best results, use dimensions to accurately size and position all walls after you are finished.

To hide or remove the image/PDF

  1. When you are finished, you can select the imported picture and Delete it.

  2. If you do not want to delete the image or PDF, select the image/PDF and click on the Open Object edit button. 

  3. On the General panel of the Picture File Box or PDF Box Specification dialog, select the Save in Plan box to keep the image saved within the plan file.

    Keep in mind that this will increase the overall file size of the .plan file this file was imported into.

    If this box is not checked, the plan file is simply referencing the external image. If this box remains unchecked, and the image is moved or deleted from its original file location, the plan file will no longer recognize it when it's re-opened.

  4. On the Line Style panel, note that the selected picture is located on the "CAD, Default" layer. Click the Define button to the right of the Layer drop-down list. Note:  Cannot change the layer in Home Designer Pro.

  5. In Chief Architect Premier and Chief Architect Interiors:  In the Layer Display Options dialog:

    • Click the Copy button in the middle of the dialog box.

    • Give the new layer a short, descriptive name such as "Image, Floor Plan".

    • Click to remove the check-box from the Disp column for this layer if you want to hide the image or PDF from view, while keeping it saved in the plan file.

    • Click OK to close the Layer Display Options dialog.

    • Your new layer will be selected in the Picture File or PDF Box Specification dialog.

    • Click OK to close this dialog, as well.

By adding fixtures, furniture and walls over the picture you will create a duplicate of the original floor plan image, and will be able to see your creation in a 3D camera view.

In this manner your picture can be used as a guide or template while creating a floor plan, and a drawing scaled at 1:1 can be produced using your Chief Architect software.