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The size of the file is 168mb and it's nearly impossible to work on the file because every action takes like five minutes or so to complete. The artwork is of a scene filled with characters and I so far outlined the entire thing with a brush and afterwards expanded all the strokes thinking it would help ease the load. However, the file is still way too big. Is there something I can do to make it easier to work on the file?

Edit: I flattened transparency and got it reduced to 33mb. Huge difference, but would like it even smaller if possible.

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Really, there's nothing you can directly do to speed up Illustrator. There is some unspoken, undocumented, limit and once you have so many objects that limit is passed, AI just gets horribly, horribly slow.

The slow down is generally due to screen redraw. So, if you can limit the need for the preview to redraw, things should be faster.

  • Use Outline Mode when feasible (View > Outline Mode). Without the preview redrawing, Outline mode is generally "snappy" even on complex files.
  • Structure your Layers so visibility can be turned off/on as needed. If you can hide a few layers, that should speed up screen redraw. However, you must construct files with this in mind (or copy/paste stuff to new layers later).
  • Combine both of the above. If your file has a good layer structure you can place some layers on Outline Mode while leaving some layers in Preview Mode. If you hold down the Command/Ctrl key and click the visibility icon next to a layer in the Layers Panel, that layer will be put in Outline Mode. This can allow you work in Preview mode on a layer while seeing the structure of other layers without waiting for the other layers to preview.
  • Use the Appearance Panel to hide or turn off visibility for any raster effects. Simply hide the effects while you work, then turn them on again to save/export the file.
  • If you are using raster effects in the artwork, adjust the Document Raster Effects Setting (DRES) in the Effects menu. You can set the DRES to "screen" or a low PPI while you work. Then when ready for output, go back and set it correctly for the output (and wait for everything to redraw).
  • Beyond these the only other thing you can do is to try and eliminate the number of actual objects by combining/merging objects when it's feasible. In My experience, it's never the amount of anchors that's an issue, it's the amount of actual objects.
  • Turning off all layers that I'm not currently working on helped ease the load a bit. It's still pretty laggy but I think this is what I have to work with for now. – Desi Apr 26 at 3:24
  • Hey Scott, I'm trying to trim my artwork so I can separate them by colors but it's taking a really long time. I've tried all of your suggestions and they helped a bit but not enough. I was wondering what your thoughts were on exporting my AI file into InDesign, working on it there, and then exporting/importing the file back into Illustrator. Would this method work in your opinion? – Desi May 1 at 0:00
  • InDesign's vector drawing tools are rudimentary compared to Illustrator. In addition, I have no clue what the artwork looks like I can't state anything about that particular method. I've never tried it. Chances are though, if something is too complex for Illustrator to handle, InDesign won't handle it better. – Scott May 1 at 1:00
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  1. First thing you might want to try is reducing the excess points on your paths. You can find the Simplify dialogue by going Object → Path → Simplify. You might want to have a look at VectorScribe. It is rather expensive but it might do a better job than the built-in Illustrator feature.

  2. If you have objects that repeat a lot in your artwork try turning them into symbols.

  3. If your artwork contains objects that have blends you might want to reduce the number of steps Object → Blend → Blend Options.

  4. Try to remove any objects that are redundant to your artwork. More often than not you might forget some objects hidden behind other larger objects.

  • Have you tried VectorScribe personally? I'm wondering if removing the points would keep the shape intact. I'm working on complex characters (think comic books) and I wouldn't want to simplify their shapes, just remove the excess points. – Desi Apr 25 at 13:10
  • Unfortunately I didn't so I can't tell you if it is the magic tool they advertise it to be but lucky for you they have a 14 days full trial so you could give it a go. – Claudiu Ioanițescu Apr 25 at 13:58
  • Just tried VectorScribe. It removed a ton of points but didn't reduce the file size one bit. Plus, it took ages to uninstall. Just writing the info here for others just in case. – Desi Apr 26 at 3:23
  • @Desi for what it's worth I find VectorScribe invaluable and well worth the cost for me. In fact, Adobe has stolen many feature concepts from VectorScribe in the last couple years. While VectorScribe is an absolutely fantastic addition to Illustrator, it is not designed as a "trouble-shooting" tool - it's a drawing tool really. As posted in my answer, it's almost never the number of anchors which causes a slow down, it's the number of objects. – Scott Apr 26 at 9:44
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while saving the illustrator file, "remove the check mark from pdf compatibility" it will make your file in KB. i once reduce the file of 1.8 GB to 206 KB with this.

Try it and if it works for you then spread it to all your designer friends.

  • 1
    Just dont wonder when it does not embed in indesign. – joojaa Aug 23 at 16:36

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