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Was wondering if I could get some advice in keeping file sizes smaller. I have a drawing here that I've been working on that has grown to 371.6Mb. It's way bigger than I want to deal with. The element of the drawing that has caused the file to grow are the trees. All of the trees are on one layer. If I remove the tree layer from the file and resave it, the file goes down to 69Mb.
It looks like you've drawn each tree using an abundance of anchor points which will definitely bump up your file size as well as making saving the document very time consuming. It may be time consuming to do so but you may want to cutdown on the number of "tree points" using the simplify path feature (see https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/simplify_paths.html).
The trees were drawn with alot of detail I suppose. It's hard to draw tiny trees without lots of vector points. I'll have to look into the "simplify path feature". I have avoided using it in the past for fear of it softening and rounding my edges.
In addition to what Bill said, to the extent that you can reuse individual tree shapes, you can also use symbols, one for each shape.
It's funny, but I have been using Illustrator since it's inception and I have NEVER used Symbols. Guess I need to explore them. If a shape is complex, and it's turned into a Symbol, does it really save file size if it's been used multiple times instead of the original vector? Do you think if I had used all "symbol" trees this file would be smaller?
Yes, but use the Static Symbol type to make the files smaller. Create a tree, define it as a Static Symbol in the Symbol options and use it multiple times.
Thanks! Why exactly does saving it as a "static" symbol save file size as opposed to "dynamic"? What are my editing limitations with saving it as "static"?
When you use a Static Symbol, all instances will look the same (except for attributes like scale, rotation). They all refer to a single symbol that is stored only once in the file, change that symbol and all instances will change.
With Dynamic Symbols you have more editing flexibility (you can direct select a single leaf of a tree and change it's color), you can have more variation within the instances of that symbol. But these instances are all stored individually in the file, making it much larger.
I made a small test with 128 trees. With the tree as static symbol the file was 342KB, without symbols or with dynamic symbols the file is around 14MB.
Wow. All good info.
In addition to using static symbols, you could save the .ai files without pdf compatibility to make it smaller. But you cannot use those files in other applications, they need the pdf part.
To make it really small, save a copy as PDF without Illustrator editing capabilities, but that is dangerous and should only be done for a final file and as a copy because you will lose a lot of Ilustrator features.
For whatever reason, the company I am drawing for wants these files saved with pdf compatibility. They just started requesting that I do that. I can't remember why. Also, I think the trees I am working with have lots of vectors and effects running on them (masking, grain, inner glow, etc).
Use links instead?
It is a reasonable file size for that balance of editability and compatibility.
You would get a smaller file size if you would sacrifice some aspect of your work.
Exporting to a PDF, PNG or JPG would lose editability but cut the size. PDF being able to keep most vectors, but would rasterise certain effects.
An Ai file with symbols and no PDF compatibility would give the smallest editable file, but you could not place that file in other applications (InDesign) and you would not see a preview in your operating system.
Arrrgh! This might be a problem then.
If I use Symbols will this file work and preview in InDesign?
It will work fine if you keep PDF compatibility on. That part has nothing to do with symbols.
Okay, but the company I am doing these drawings for has requested that I save these files "with PDF compatibility". So what you are saying is that if I use Symbols and don't save with PDF compatibility my Symbols won't work in InDesign's preview? Sorry, I just want to clarify this as I want to supply them with the best solution.
No, I'm saying the two things are unrelated.
If you don't save with PDF compatibility, you won't see previews in InDesign. This has nothing to do with whether or not you have used symbols. It's another way of cutting down file size.
Yeah, they are dragging my art into InDesign files for layout.
I have to have PDF compatibility checked.
Thanks for clarifying.
As Doug says PDF compatibility and Symbols are two seperate things. If you ae placing in InDesign then turning off PDF compatibility is not an option. Using Symbols is smart either way because it of the workflow benifits.