Useful Tips

9 ways to reduce file size in Adobe Illustrator


All of us once come across the need to get acquainted with this wonderful tool for drawing vector graphics.

But what if the interface is large during installation?

The first thing you should pay attention to is the “Screen Settings”. Illustrator adapts to your application scale, and if the value is 125% or more, then the interface scale will be larger.

You can solve the problem by setting the value to 100%. But unfortunately, the scale of all applications will also become smaller, and if you have a small screen, then it will not be very comfortable for the eyes (well, for me).

How to change the scale of the Illustrator interface without changing the scale of all other applications?

1) Go to My Computer

2) Right mouse button -> Properties

3) Select "Advanced system settings"

4) In the appeared window "System Properties", go to the tab "Environment Variables ..."

5) In the "System Variables" area, click the "Create ..." button

6) The "New System Variable" window appears.

7) In the input "Name", insert UI_SCALE_FACTOR

8) Enter the value 1 and click OK

After that, restart Adobe Illustrator and our entire interface has become a neat, comfortable size :)

File Save Options

When we first save the file (File> Save ... or File> Save As ...) the Illustrator options dialog box opens. To significantly reduce file size, uncheck Create PDF Compatible File and check Use Compression.

Such a choice of options reduces the file size by several times. While writing this article, I experimented with a rather complex vector work, Shield and Sword, which contains blend objects, vector textures, gradient meshes, etc.

Using the Create PDF Compatible File option may be required in some areas of design. In this case, select it during the last save (File> Save As ...), when the work is completely ready. In addition, the Create PDF Compatible File option will help you recover files after the crash of Illustrator. However, such a recovery is not necessary if you use the Autosaviour plugin, which can back up the file.

Using Linked Images

Your work along with vector objects may contain bitmap images. You can paste them into a document or get as a result of some processes. For example, raster effects after the Expand Appearance command turn into raster images. Any raster graphics in Illustrator can be of two types: linked Image or Embedded Images. Using only linked Images will significantly reduce file size, especially when it comes to large, high-resolution images. For example, a file containing linked Image Pink rose with Shutterstock has a size of 380Kb. And if the file contains Embedded Images, then after saving it will be 5527Kb in size.

The file may already contain Embedded Images. In this case, you can make them Linked by clicking on the Unembed button in the Control panel or by clicking on the Relink icon in the Links panel.

I want to note that the Relink function is available only to users of Adobe Illustrator CC. If you work in earlier releases of the application, then you can use the Rasterino plugin, which has a similar function - Link Images.

Cropping unwanted parts of embedded images

In the case when we still need to use Embedded Images, we can remove the unnecessary part of the image using Rasterino. If the image has a background that contains transparent or white pixels, then we can remove them by clicking on the Trim Image button in the Rasterino panel. After selecting the necessary options in the dialog box that opens, the part of the image that does not have significant information will be deleted.

We can also crop the image by selecting the part we need, using the Crop Image Tool of the Rasterino plugin or using the Crop Image button in the Rasterino panel.

Undoubtedly, deleting part of the embedded image will reduce the size of the entire file.

Decrease the resolution of raster effects

You can reduce the resolution of all raster effects that were applied in the current document. To do this, go to Effect> Document Raster Effects Settings ... and set the resolution to a low value in the dialog box.

This will reduce the file size and speed up the process of displaying graphics on the screen during zooming. After you finish working with the file, you can set the required value for resolution.

Removing Extra Points

The number of control points also affects the size of your file. Their number can be reduced using the Simplify function (Object> Path> Simplify ...). In my opinion, this function is good to use for rough processing of contours, for example, to reduce the number of points of vector textures when there is no need to accurately preserve the shape of objects.

But when it comes to accuracy, for example, when removing extra points on a character’s contour, it’s better to use the Smart Remove Brush Tool (VectorScribe). This tool allows you to literally sweep away excess points, working with a brush as a broom.

In addition, VectorScribe allows you to select and automatically remove overlapping points from selected paths. Both of these options are available in the PathScribe Preferences dialog box. The vector work that I experimented with contained 156 overlapping dots.

Decrease the number of width markers

Working with constant-width paths and variable-width paths using the Width Brush Tool or the Width Gradient Tool (WidthScribe plug-in) can lead to the formation of a large number of width markers. Their excessive number increases the file size and slows down the application while editing and zooming the screen. We can automatically reduce their number using the Optimise Width Markers function of the WidthScribe plugin (Object> Path> Optimize Width Markers ...). In this case, the shape of the paths does not significantly change.

For manual removal of excess width markers, use the Width Eraser Tool (WidthScribe plugin).

Using characters

Vector works may contain many objects or groups of objects resulting from duplication. In this case, save the item you want to duplicate as a symbol in the Symbols panel. Then proceed to duplicate the symbol, for example, using the Symbol Sprayer Tool. Using characters will significantly reduce the size of the source file. Their use is especially justified if you intend to duplicate complex objects.

Reducing the number of steps to blend an object

A large number of hood steps can cause a gigantic file size. To reduce the steps, select the blend object, then go to Object> Blend> Blend Options ... or just double-click on the Blend Tool icon in the Tools panel. Select the number of steps in the Blend Tool Option dialog box that does not lead to a significant deterioration in the quality of the blend object.

In the process of working on several complex blend objects, you can set 1-3 steps in general, then restore the necessary value when your work is completely ready. This trick will speed up your workflow without creating long pauses while saving the file.

Work with transparent objects

The transparency function and blending modes undoubtedly help to add a third dimension to two-dimensional vector graphics, giving unlimited scope for creativity. However, the rash use of transparent objects can increase the file size several times. Often a designer, accustomed to the powerful features of Adobe Illustrator, forgets that the task can be solved in simpler ways. Many times I met work with gradient fills that contain transparent sliders, while the designer could just pick the right color without using transparency.

The use of colored objects, to which the blending mode is applied, for color correction greatly increase the file size. Especially when such an object or even several objects cover all the difficult work. I think that for color correction it is better to use the Phantasm plugin, which has all the necessary tools for working with color, including Levels, Hue / Saturation, Brightness / Contrast, Curves, etc.

In conclusion, I would like to recommend you two articles that I wrote earlier and are directly related to the topic of today's publication:

Object scaling

Scaling increases or decreases the horizontal size of objects (along the X axis), vertical size (along the Y axis), or both. Objects are scaled relative to the control point, which varies depending on the scaling method used. You can change the standard control point for most scaling methods and fix the aspect ratio of the object.

After zooming the object, Illustrator does not save the original size of the object in memory. Therefore, it is impossible to restore the original size of the object. However, you can view the resolution information in the Document Information panel and select the zoom value for the object without changing the resolution of the object.

By default, strokes and effects do not scale with objects. To scale the stroke and effects, choose Edit> Preferences> General (Windows) or Illustrator> Preferences> General (Mac OS) and select the Scale Strokes and Effects check box. To scale strokes and effects only when necessary, use the Transform panel or the Zoom command to scale objects.