Using Openings for Exterior Details

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In this tutorial I will discuss how to use an opening for creating a wall accent. We will go through the steps to create an Opening Shape. Then we will convert this Opening Shape into an Elevation Opening. And finally we will use the Elevation Opening as the basis for creating the new Opening that we will be using as our wall accent.

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Elevation Opening

The first thing we will need to do is create a special Elevation Opening. This will be the key to making an Opening that displays with a solid fill rather than as a hole or door or window.

First you will need to draw an Opening Shape to represent your detail. This can be any of the Opening Shapes found by selecting Draw ⇒ Detail ⇒ Opening Shapes. You can use any of Opening Shapes but for this demonstration I will select the Round Top. You would select an appropriate opening shape to match the accent shape you want to create. Once you have selected your Opening Shape just sketch out a rough shape on the screen.

Next edit the opening shape. Uncheck all of the Frame check boxes, and in Composition make sure that only Solid is checked. Also uncheck Grille.

Your resulting opening shape should now look something like the image below.

Next we need to make this into an Elevation Opening. Elevation Openings are the basis for all Openings and they define the shape and many other aspects of the Opening.

  • Select File ⇒ System Options ⇒ System Library.
  • Select Elevation Openings as the Type.
  • Select a Library, or create a new Library if you wish, in which to place the new Elevation Opening.

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  • Select One Step.
  • Draw a box around your Elevation Shape and then give it a name such as Round Top Solid.
  • Select OK.

You have now created the Elevation Opening that will be used as the basis for your wall accent. Next we will create the actual Opening that we will be using.


Openings are based on Elevation Openings. The Elevation Opening controls many aspects of how the Opening will look.

When we created our Elevation Opening we removed the Frame as well as the Grille from the Opening Shape. We also placed a check next to Solid. By doing this we were able to create an Elevation Opening that will be a Solid rather than be open such as in an arch. Basically all we wanted was a solid shape for the final Opening.

  • With the System Library dialog still open switch the Type to Openings.
  • Select a Library, or create a new Library if you wish, where you want to place the new Opening.
  • Select One Step.

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In the Add New Opening dialog Give your new Opening a name. Select Custom Opening. Select a Type. The Type selection will affect how the opening will look in plan view when placed in a wall. Select Arch. Later we will define this Opening as hidden. Making an Opening hidden allows it to be seen in 3D, but even though you can see it in your drawing it will not print. When you print your drawing it will be as if the opening isn't there in the plan.

Next select the Library where you placed the Elevation Opening you created earlier and then select the Elevation Opening from the list. Select OK.

From the Configure Opening dialog select Edit Individual Component.

From the Component Tab edit the Frame Width and set to 0.125". Set the Frame Thickness to 0"

Switch to the Elevation Tab and set the Sill to None and uncheck all of the Frame checkboxes. Select OK.

Next select the Edit Entire Opening button. Switch to the Display tab and select Hidden. Select OK three times to close out the Opening configuration. Your new wall accent opening is created.

Insert in a wall

You insert your new wall accent opening into a wall just as you would any other opening. In plan view on the screen you will see a hole in the wall. But since we defined this opening as Hidden the hole will be filled with wall when you print the plan or view it in a Plan Set. The only real problem with using openings this way is that they will show up on your interiors in 3D. If that is a problem then you can create a Building Option and assign the wall accents to the Building Option and turn it off when viewing your model from the interior.

By adjusting the size, trim, and Frame Offset you can achieve a variety of looks all from the same opening.

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Update: SoftPlan 2016 added a new type of opening called a Niche. A Niche type opening does essentially the same thing as the opening described above but it does not show on the other side of the wall. So the Niche would be a better choice for 3D if you are using 2016 and later versions.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of

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