I've been using drop shadows on a logo I'm working with and when I apply the effect it takes a good 30-40 seconds for it to finish, and then same amount of time for each edit. I'm using an older macbook here, so it's not super fast but it's no netbook either. Why are drop shadows so intensive to render, and is there something not quite as resource-heavy for improving logo viewability against a mixed-color background?

  • 2
    Render time is in direct correlation to the object the shadow is being applied to in addition to anything underneath that object. The more complex object stacking is, the more time it takes.
    – Scott
    Dec 8, 2014 at 20:02
  • Ctrl/Cmd+Y: outline mode?
    – Vincent
    Dec 8, 2014 at 20:05
  • Are you using a Mac?
    – Rosenthal
    Dec 8, 2014 at 23:34
  • Also, size will be a factor. Normally, how big (in mm) a vector is makes no difference, but raster (pixel) effects like drop shadow are based on an internal pixels per inch (PPI) setting (probably 300), so if you're designing your logo bigger (in mm) than usual, it'll use more pixels to render than usual, and will be slower than usual. (tip: it's a good idea to avoid pixel effects in logos - they'll be used in so many varied contexts it's best to stick to things which size and render reliably across formats and media) Jul 7, 2015 at 9:12
  • 1
    I know some people won't agree, but frankly you should avoid using drop shadows in vector software. Yes they need to be rendered, although it does help usually to expand the effect or flatten it. If your computer is having issue, an option is to simply create your drop shadows as high resolution raster images in Photoshop and import them under your vector text. It works, it's fast, and it's 100% reliable.
    – go-junta
    Nov 4, 2015 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


If you're happy to edit without the effect until the end, you can temporarily toggle the visibility of the effect in the appearance panel.

That should allow you to focus on completing a different part of the illustration, and then render the effects at the end.

Appearance panel


The least CPU intestive method would be to copy the art, combine all vectors (or select the layer), apply a stroke or contour of a contrasting color. The vector should apply faster than a raster interpolation. Depending on how old your computer is I would expect if it is older than 1998 (it could be this slow) but if it is, you can probably replace it cheaper than you think. If this is less than 10 years old you may have some serious problems with your hard drive. Or you are working with a huge image?

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