I'm trying to make 16x16 icons in line style with Adobe Illustrator and when I export to .PNG, lines are extremely low quality and pixelated. Here's examples:

Inbox Icon

Dashboard Icon


Here's what it looks like in Illustrator:

Screenshot of Adobe Illustrator

I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong. Is there something I need to know? Thanks!

3 Answers 3


I think you have to design these icons using a pixel-snap grid. You have to set the grid (and units) and the document settings. Try to follow this -old- article: http://petshopboxstudio.com/blog/articles/how-to-prepare-illustrator-for-pixel-perfection/

  • That's what I did, snap to pixel is on. Document setting is on pixel unit.
    – dmxt
    Jul 2, 2014 at 6:30
  • 2
    Before the export, try to go in VIEW > PIXEL PREVIEW and you should be able to see the preview of the pixel export and then "correct" the shapes and the lines before export. Jul 2, 2014 at 6:40
  • Thank you very much for the suggestion, however I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with pixel preview and how to make the output better.
    – dmxt
    Jul 2, 2014 at 8:59
  • Mmmm i've tried to export two 16x16 png. The !first one have 1,721px inner line, the !second one have 1px inner line. Have you tried to set to "inner" and 1px the track? Jul 2, 2014 at 11:59
  • @dmxt The image in your question shows that the preview mode is not engaged. If you still have the file, you might zoom in to at least 600% and then share a screenshot. At that point you'll see pixels instead of the deceptively smooth curves. At that point you'll see the effects of selecting everything and ticking "Align to pixel grid" in the Transform tool, and you can tweak line thicknesses etc.
    – Jon Coombs
    Nov 11, 2015 at 0:27

seriously :) if it's 16x16 just use the pencil tool and draw it in photoshop! At this size you're designing pixels.

Even pixel snap and resizing won't help you with this! If you need the logo this small you need to change the design and draw it by hand anyway this shouldn't take that long :)

  • I disagree. It's very difficult to manually simulate good anti-aliasing (i.e. fudging/blurring line angles by shading the colors). If you zoom in with pixel preview turned on, you can see what will be generated, and adjust line positions and thicknesses accordingly, letting Illustrator do the hard part.
    – Jon Coombs
    Nov 11, 2015 at 0:15
  • that is of course a great tip in general, but not at this size! This is a size where you have to count pixels yourself. Even the V in his design couldn't be centered cause you have 8 pixels to your left and 8 pixels to your right. If you don't trust my judgement go and try it for yourself. I agree with you to a 100% though that manual antialiasing isn't fun ;) Nov 12, 2015 at 10:48

An alternate technique is to just draw, then export to a decently high-resolution file which is a multiple of the desired pixel resolution (288 or 576 ppi), then reduce the pixel file to the proper resolution in PhotoShop using Bicubic Sharper (Best for Reduction).

  • This isn't ideal (it's better to straight from vector each time), but using a multiple of the desired resolution is definitely helpful if you're going to use this approach.
    – Jon Coombs
    Nov 11, 2015 at 4:37

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