I created a PDF file via Microsoft Visio (a scalable diagramming tool). Later on I decided to make some changes. Visio kinda' sucks, so I decided to swap over and modify it with Adobe Illustrator where it was trivial to blow it up to A3 size and make some necessary changes. The PDF objects are scalable, so there was no loss in resolution, etc. So that was great. I exported in various formats, and all was well. Other revisions were made at different times, but most recently, I can't seem to export the final image without these strange graphical artifacts appearing in the resulting files image.

I'll upload an example when I get the chance, but they're little white and grey squares with a kind of cascading staircase pattern if you look closely.

I don't believe I've done anything differently, but I can't seem to get rid of them. They're not displayed in the image within Illustrator, only in the resulting files. There seems to be one for each Visio object. Any idea what they are, or how to suppress them?

enter image description here

  • Just a tip: Exporting those as pngs could eliminate the problem and make the layout easier to render in something like Visio.
    – 13ruce
    Dec 3, 2018 at 13:59
  • @13ruce A few things: • That's not really a solution here. I mean, rasters ≠ vectors. If they were scalable, it might have been fine. • I always export to three formats (.png @4×, .pdf & .svg) by default; the artifacts are present in each. • I don't think that's true; what you said about Visio & .pngs. • I'd prefer to avoid using Visio where possible. It was fine for building the basic diagram, but it's no Illustrator.
    – voices
    Dec 5, 2018 at 12:25
  • I agree that it's not an answer. That's why I didn't post it as an answer, so much as an alternative method that might eliminate the issue altogether. Regarding pngs vs svgs, while a single svg might take up less disk space than a png, rastering an svg with gradients and multiple handles, then multiplied by 50+ instances like it seems you may have in your diagram could easily create a much larger rendering burden than the same number of pngs. I can't confirm that, of course, but I think it's worth exploring. I wish you the best of luck.
    – 13ruce
    Dec 5, 2018 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


Completely guessing as to what the "graphical artifacts" are.... I'd say that perhaps you mean the gradient filled rectangles??? A tad more description would be beneficial. Realize no one here will know what the file is supposed to look like without an example.

It is possible those gradient rectangles are embedded raster images with Clipping Masks in Illustrator. This is often done to accommodate gradients from other software.

Chances are if you view the file (in Illustrator) in Outline Mode (View > Outline), you will see the rectangles. You can then select and delete them.

Be aware, they may be needed as "fills" for some shapes and you'll need to check the artwork (in Preview mode) after deleting them to ensure items you want aren't also being removed. And in some cases you may need to reapply gradient fills after deleting the embedded raster images.

  • It's possible they got locked somehow, then things got moved or deleted.. leaving remnants which are outside of actual clipping masks. Possibly making them not appear until output.. merely guessing though. I'm nto a Visio user. And no.... people aren't mind readers ;) it's never wise to assume others will know that's wrong with the appearance of a file. I could link to at least a dozen questions here that are completely ambiguous merely due to this fact.
    – Scott
    Nov 2, 2018 at 23:49

It looks like common problem with export from Microsoft products. First thing you should try - change PDF export to PDF printer, Adobe native printer that comes with Acrobat installation will be enough. Then instead of exporting to PDF choose Print and choose PDF printer. Depending on your Windows version there also can be Windows native PDF printer available so you can try that also.

  • The weird thing is, this was the second time around. I started with a .vsdx file (export from Visio). Converted to .svg (via LucidChart). Imported to .ai (Illustrator). Made changes. Exported to .png, .pdf & .svg, but lost or didn't save the .ai. A week later, I made some corrections to the scalable graphics, and exported to various formats, but during the automated process these artifacts jump to the foreground. The problem isn't even necessarily that they exist (although ideally they wouldn't), but that the final output doesn't match the display.
    – voices
    Dec 5, 2018 at 11:22
  • Printing to PDF printer will save you a lot of abracadabra you are doing as for Illustrator PDF is native format like AI that you will be easy modify after.
    – mrserge
    Dec 5, 2018 at 18:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.