I’ve created a repeat square that uses rasterised vector illustrations, the reason being that placing all the illustrations without rasterising into a repeat square will make the file massive (1gb +) to the point of unworkable.

When I started this project, I thought it’d be smart and more efficient if I were to vectorise these illustrations so I could easily change colours and assign PMS shades to it if need be, but what I’ve ended up creating are very large files (around 500-700mb each) that are slow to save and work with as the files use a lot of custom watercolour and bristle brushes that use transparency.

SO, using raster images for the repeat square has been working fine for me until recently, when a digital fabric printer asked me to send them an unflattened file so they can make sure the colour matches a PMS swatch!

I’m panicking and wishing I'd created these illustrations in PS.

I wonder if, without rasterising, there is anything I can do to the bristle and watercolour brush strokes that will lighten the file size???

Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you!

2 Answers 2


I don't believe there is anything you can do to lower the size of files using brushes other than the perhaps to expand (not flatten) the brushes. However, even then you may be dealing with issues due to the number of objects. Illustrator simply chokes once you pass some magical threshold of objects.

Perhaps you could simply copy/paste artwork into Photoshop, convert to greyscale, save as tif, re-import to Illustrator, embed, and assign your Pantone color.

  • Thank you!. Yeah I've tried expanding but to no avail. I'll try your PS route and see what happens. To be honest, as long as the file can be manipulated colour wise without changing the illustration or degrading anything I'm happy with that. It's just been a headache as the size of files cause my computer to run at snail pace.
    – Qrious
    Feb 4, 2014 at 0:36

Look into Symbols...

I've used them before, I don't have illustrator open at the moment, so I'll do this from memory.

Select your tile (you may want to save a copy of it in a separate file first just to be safe). Then you open the symbols pane, and choose "new symbol" while the basic tile is still selected.

This will convert it into a symbol, which you can arrange and copy as much as you want to, and somehow illustrator will only deal with the contents once.

Be careful though if you choose to edit one of those tiles, all tiles will change along with it... unless you explode it first.

Play around with it, and see how it works for you.

good luck Cam

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