Sometimes when I'm working on a piece, I'll use multiple resource intensive patterns & effects like Transforms, 3D revolves, etc. to the point where the document becomes slow and unstable. Then i'll try to expand things as much as possible to reduce them to their simplest forms, like basic strokes and paths, and I'll use clipping masks to put textures and patterns on the actual objects that make up the basic structure of the image, like their wearing a skin. Problem is it seems the complex objects objects are still consuming system resources even after expanding them, because the effects can still be adjusted and handles/anchors from before the clipping mask are still showing up in empty space. I think what I'm trying to do is what is referred to as flattening and/or consolidating in other softwares like Inkscape. How can I do that with Illustrator?
Sometimes I can get it to work if I'm really persistent and try enough combinations of tools like the pathfinder, expand, expand appearance, divide below tools, etc. but it's a hacky process and things never quite go the way i want them to when I do it like that.
Okay, so I didn't want to be too specific, I wanted to present the broader issue, rather than a specific image, because otherwise people get distracted and come up with solutions for a single case, that isn't necessarily relevant to all the other cases. So, I'm going to share a story relating to a specific case, but just try to keep it in mind. I mean, If you have a solve for this instance, go on and share it, but my hope is that we can target the root, rather than the symptoms.
Anyway. I play this game with my sister, right; it's like a competition. One of us finds an interesting photograph and we both have to recreate it in our own style, and see who can do it best. She draws it freehand, I construct scalable vector graphics. Here's the current subject (real photo, by the way):
Naturally, I started with the eye(s). I made five variants. These were all exported directly from Illustrator and then previewed in Finder (macOS) Notice how the SVG has the best dynamic range. I don't know how that happened.
Warnings and Errors
The SVG file is relatively light (12.9 MB) and can be previewed with my file manager, but cannot be opened properly by Illustrator (the software that built and exported them). Neither can Inkscape. Or any similar software that I've tried. So I resigned to using the PDFs that were exported at the same time. Illustrator can't display them properly either, but they still look kind of the same, almost; just kind of dull and lifeless. But even with a fully optimized PDF file weighing only 6.2 MB it's sluggish and locks up whenever I try to edit it.
279.5 MB = Original .ai file 12.9 MB = Original .svg export 133.7 MB = Original .pdf export 51.9 MB = Second .pdf export (optimizd) 24.7 MB = Third .pdf export (heavily optimized) 6.2 MB = Final .pdf export (single subject only)
Check it out
I made the whole project public.
Browse the repository here.
Hosted on Google Drive