I'm trying to export some icons in an Illustrator document to PDF. However, some of the icons have a square of overlay around them - Assumably due to an item which has overlay and also a shadow around them (shadow is on multiply)

enter image description here

This is how the file will look on Illustrator, but as soon as I export to PDF (where I just pick adobe 1.7 and don't make any changes to default settings) the final result is as such on certain PDF viewers (Chrome):

enter image description here

As you can see, the highlights around two of the elements in this exported version. Both of these elements have a shadow that is set to multiply, then all of the elements are grouped together and set to Overlay.

Any tips how to fix this?

  • By any chance, is your Ai document in RGB and the .pdf export in CMYK?
    – Vincent
    Nov 25, 2021 at 12:04
  • Thank you for your response. My Ai document and .pdf export are both in RGB. Nov 25, 2021 at 20:08
  • Then... I'm stumped, I'm sorry.
    – Vincent
    Nov 26, 2021 at 10:37
  • It's hard for us to answer without having access to your file. There could be some hidden complexity causing this. Try copying the graphics to another document and see if the problem persists. Then simplify the graphics until you reach the simplest possible case where the problem occurs and describe that to us.
    – Wolff
    Nov 30, 2021 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


A shadow can exist without the need for it to be in multiply mode, also, all of that can be made without any blending modes, also make sure you export to a recent PDF format and not some legacy PDF format.

  • 1.7 is a recent PDF format. And yes, shadows do not require the multiply blend mode in general, but it can often be the easiest (and best) way to make them – and at any rate, using multiply shouldn’t be causing big lumpy squares like in the image shown in the question. Nov 26, 2021 at 21:10

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