I have made a crystal structure for my thesis in illustrator. I used a half circle to generate nice spheres using Illustrator's 3D effect:

enter image description here

Now the problem is that the filesize is huge: 40MB when saved as PDF (the format i am importing in to Latex), 25MB as .ai and a little less for an svg. How can I get a decent file size? Is there a way to 'rasterize' the 3D effect or compress it somehow?

3 Answers 3


What do you mean by 3D effect? You could always just create those spheres by placing a radial gradient inside a circular path. This would be the simplest method to do this.


  • I used the Revolve function. I might try your approach later and will report back.
    – ElDoe
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:15
  • 1
    Yes, I was going to say the same thing. A "sphere" is essentially a simple radial gradient on a circle. No need to use any 3D effects.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:17

Don't copy and paste the original objects, use Symbols!

John's and Andrew's answers are both completely valid, but here's a third option that has a bit of a different workflow.

You have three different spheres which you've presumably copy and pasted repeatedly. When done that way, Illustrator won't recognize that when saving and won't make any optimizations to reduce your filesize.

The way to force Illustrator to make that optimization is to use Symbols. Instead of copy and pasting the spheres, create a symbol for each. You can then copy and paste the Symbol repeatedly. Even with "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" checked, your filesize will be drastically reduced. I tested it with a few hundred spheres, the file dropped from 45 MB to 568 KB.

  • I was going to mention in my answer that once you made one sphere you could turn it into a symbol then use those haha
    – Manly
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 16:25

You can go John's way but I would also look into the settings when you're exporting to a PDF.

I created a simple document filled with 3D squares. I then exported as a .ai file.

3D test

I then saved the same file as a PDF. I made sure to unckeck "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities".

uncheck Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities

My file output

saving file size

This should create a much smaller file size than your working Illustrator file.

  • Thanks, this at least dropped the file down to 20MB. That's a start without spending lots of time rearranging the symbols.
    – ElDoe
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 11:51

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