Clipping Masks and File Sizes

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by JannaB, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. JannaB macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2012
    Hey hey,

    So I'm having a serious issue with clipping masks and file sizes...

    Basically I've created a lovely image thats entirely composed of clipping masks of high res photographs. My ai. file stands at 270.7 mb the PDF at 269.mb and a JPG at 7.7mb.

    Anyway I can reduce the file size further? :confused:

    Thank you,

  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    As a personal practice I rarely, rarely, rarely use clipping paths.

    I would instead composite in Photoshop any element that didn't strictly need to remain vector art.

    Save a version of the layered Photoshop file, but place a flattened version in your final file ... sized and sharpened for the output device.

    That should solve most of your file-size issues.
  3. Moonjumper macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2009
    Lincoln, UK
    Try Export For Web and select png. You get relatively small file sizes without jpg degradation.
  4. davedee65 macrumors regular


    Apr 7, 2010
    Even though only a small part of any given masked photo might be visible the whole image is still there in the document, so the more you add the greater the file size especially if they're hi res.

    I would suggest that once you have finalised the composition of masked photos in Illustrator, export it to or open it in Photoshop and save the composite image from there. Or use that as a template to recreate the design in Photoshop as suggested by Citizenzen. Then you can either paste any vector elements into the Photoshop file or place the composite flattened image back into Illustrator and add the vector graphics there.

    If you have to save your original design as a PDF from Illustrator try adjusting the compression levels and make sure that "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" is off.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    There are a few things that you could do depending on what the final delivery method is (ie. PDF file or JPEG). When it comes to PDF's I find that that the best setting in Illustrator is to select "Press Quality" in the "Adobe PDF Preset" drop down then uncheck "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" This should cut the size down substantially.

    The biggest problem you'll have though is any time you bring in a hi-res photo to illustrator it will dramatically increase your file size compared to a standalone vector file. You have few options to help avoid this.

    1) If you plan to do your masking in Illustrator then try and re-size the files to something closer to their final size before bringing them into Illustrator. This may help a little.

    2) Mask any raster elements in Photoshop first then compose in Illustrator. Keep in mind that Illustrator's strength is in creating vector graphics and composition. Usually if you have raster elements that you want to use in your composition it it best to edit them (mask, change color, touch up, resize etc.) before bringing them into Illustrator. You can then bring them in as a PSD. Please note that any masked elements should be converted into Smart Objects in Illustrator to preserve the transparency. Don't ask me's an Adobeism that I've never really understood.

    3) Link the "image files" rather then embedding them. This should be done with caution , but if your goal is to make you AI file smaller this will help.......but you'll need to make sure that everything is linked back to your image files properly. The best practice for this is to create a folder that holds you AI file then a sub-folder that holds you image files. This way your Illustrator file will only contain the vector graphics and any changes and adjustments done to the linked files will be reflected when you view them again in Illustrator. It's a nice solution that speeds editing up, but be very careful when sending your AI files to production since you'll need to create a zip file that contains the AI AND the image folder with it. Think of it like a website only your HTML file is replaced by an AI file. This is a cool function, but it won't help when exporting to PDF's and such.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have anymore Illustrator questions since I work on it every day and constantly deal with bloated files. Good luck! :D

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