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.


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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 at 1:00
  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 '19 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. Apr 25 '19 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 '19 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 '19 at 9:44

I got this problem before. My very important opinion is to upgrade hard drive to SSD. Normal hard disk read/write file is only 100mbps, SATA form SSD can read/write disk about 600mbps, but if you're using M.2 nvme it can read/write up to 3.500mbps (depends on product), so it's actually can speed up your work up to 35 times faster. Other components of computer also playing big roles in speed up your work, such as CPU's clock speed, L1 L2 L3 cache size, amounts of RAM, (except GPU, GPU not too important in my opinion), but I found SSD is the most important thing.

I works with eps file that up to 1-2 Gbps/file, and still have the "loading" problem. Thanks to Scott about the explanations of the "UNSPOKEN" things.

  • Illustrator is single threaded so having more cores does nothing for you. But having a good gpu helps since the drawing is gpu accelerated. If you have a bad gpu then yes it does not help on a big file since the gpu runs out of memory
    – joojaa
    Aug 23 '20 at 11:50
  • I meant CPU clock speed @joojaa, edited my last comment. Yeah hopefully Illustrator team can upgrade the number of thread.
    – Veldry
    Aug 23 '20 at 15:17
  • Actually in my opinion, Illustrator works find with only integrated GPU on Intel such as Intel UHD 630. Because I'm working with Illustrator for 10 years, and it's my daily job to do. I have vary specs of GPU such as Raden R3, GeForce MX 230, GTX 1050, GTX 1650 super and so on. I always open task manager to see what Illustrator consumes and GPU always work fine. Lets say I have 2 GPU on ROG laptop, Intel UHD and GTX, although already set Illustrator run at Nvidia (GTX), its always comes with using CPU 0 (Intel UHD / integrated)
    – Veldry
    Aug 23 '20 at 15:34
  • yes the power of the gpu isnt really taxed unless it runs out of memory. Some interated GPUS share the memory with your processors which is bad. Anyway i actually never do things that tax illustrator too much because i dont try to spem too much to it. If i need something more complex than illustrator can handle i switch to something else. But then i run markedly faster computers than most of you do (because i need to do FEM calculation).
    – joojaa
    Aug 23 '20 at 15:57

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.

  • 2
    Just dont wonder when it does not embed in indesign.
    – joojaa
    Aug 23 '19 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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