Questions about vector heavy designs in illustrator

Hello. I hope its okay i ask these questions. Im new here so apologies if not. I did multiple searches and didnt find my answers. I also tried to contact an admin but couldnt find how to contact them directly (to see if my question was okay) as im new to the interface here.

My issue is this. Im working at a screen print shop and sometimes i get involved with vector heavy designs in illustrator by using watercolor brushes or other types. Ive recently designed something that was around 26mb as an ai file but when i created outlines/merged etc it and needed to send it as an eps for someone else to open it in corel draw it saved as around 55mb. This large file bogs down our computers. Is it the computers power thats in question? Or is there a way of reducing file sizes with originally vector heavy designs? I seem to encounter this issue often when creating original artwork that needs to look like its hand drawn and using a watercolor/wet media effect. Sometimes it takes 4 to 5 min to make one simple move (like selecting all the artwork on the artboard) and its beyond ridiculous. Most the designs i have to create im okay… but 15% of the time the client wants wet media look (and i have to merge the artwork for transfering to someone else using corel so they can resize id needed with no resolution loss ie vector) and it can get crazy on it being vector heavy and slowing down our computers. Thanks for ur help in advance.

It’s fine to ask questions. That’s one of the reasons the forum exists.

I’m not quite sure what you mean, but vector illustrations do not lend themselves to a watercolor look. The pixels-by-pixel complexity of watercolors does not match up with how vector illustrations work — the files would be huge and could grind a RIP to a halt.

EPS is an old, mostly outdated format. The EPS file likely included a bitmapped preview of the illustration, which would have increased the size of the file.

Again, this is not what vector illustrations are made to do. This is what raster/bitmapped files are for. Trying to screen print a watercolor that’s been vectorized, if that’s what you’re attempting, will cause exactly the sort of thing you’re describing.

Instead, you should be using something like Photoshop (a raster/bitmap application). Raster isn’t an ideal format for screen printing, but there are techniques for doing it with the right artwork and equipment. For example.

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Thanks for your response Just B. Okay maybe I need to clarify the water color brushes. Its not true water color brushes. Its actually whats called an “ink_wash_brush_pack”. It looks like its using a percentage of a color in the mark but its actually using the full 100% of the color. Which I don’t quite understand. Doesn’t matter if its in RGB or CMYK on the screen. But when it prints out it prints out half tones when using accurip. I cant use photoshop, or raster imagery at times, if I want to share the image with a coworker using CorelDraw because they need the designs in vector. Again it might not be a true watercolor brush set like in photoshop as a raster… because its in vector in illustrator but when I have to use a lot of them it bogs down our computers when using the designs. Now I could just use a non ink wash brush set and just use a regular brush set and make it a percentage of the color (say 50%) and it wont bog down the computer… keep it simple with brush effects you know… but just curious here. Wondering if its a computer issue or a brush set issue or maybe there is a way when the design is done irregardless of what brushes I use I can send the file as an .eps for CorelDraw purposes on the other end and it wont bog down any computers. thanks! Is there a way to reduce file size without losing vector quality and slowing down a computer? im also trying to use vector first aid from astute graphics and its helping a little but still a larger file. 55mb is ridiculous.

55mb is actually a fairly tiny file to some folks. :wink:

Couple questions,
you say the brush appears to use tints. If you brush over some other color, does the other color show thru? If so, you are using a transparency effect, or possibly even a raster effect encapsulated in a vector envelope. If the latter, you will get bog-down like you describe. I suspect this to be the issue as you say you can save as a .eps that can be opened in CorelDraw. When saving as a .eps, transparency is flattened and you’d have a right mess on your hands.

The more brushes you use and the more strokes you have using it, the larger your file is going to be. Kinda like using a gaussian blur. I’ve opened files with those, then gone for a cup of coffee while it opens. Though I’m used to client .ai files in the 150-200mb range, I don’t like them.

The other thing that makes files large, at least when saved as .ai is keeping the PDF function turned on. You can shut it off, though it is needed when placing the images into InDesign, you can turn it back on again later.

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When you have the illustrator file the majority of the memory hogging is done by embedded raster images (links panel).

Sometimes my CPU gets really bogged down when a design consists of custom made lines, brushes, and gradients in Illustrator.

One way to get those smaller is to:

  1. Select any “custom” design elements (one at a time or all at once if common fill/stroke/opacity, etc). NOT linked or embedded files.
  2. Object - expand (may have to do expand appearance, then again to expand path and stroke.
  3. With the former line(s) selected, Pathfinder - Unite.
  4. With the now United object(s) selected, Go to Object - Flatten Transparency.

This often releases a lot of extraneous information from the poorly designed custom design elements. Thereby making your image smaller and more malleable.

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The same color doesn’t show thru so it is not a transparency. I noticed that when I unite the strokes they “tone” of the brush goes away. Its strange because it registers as all 100% of the color (not a percentage change anywhere in the brush stroke) but on screen it clearly looks like say two different tones of orange or whatever color you use. I suspect like you all that this is whats boggin down the computer. However this brush set was made or whatever its using to create that effect. Thanks.

thank you I will keep this in mind. Like I told printdriver that brush effect looses its effect when I UNITE them in pathfinder. I can Merge and not loose the effect of course. Maybe flattening transparency is a solution too. Does that actually help reduce the vector size of the design? thanks!

I just looked up how to make a watercolor brush.
If your brush looks anything like the pic below when expanded and selected, My guess is you are pushing the node limit of the software.
That is WAY too many nodes to work quickly. Not much is going to help your file size.

Yes, but I have no idea why. I keep flatten transparency as a last ditch tool. This solution came out of trying everything to make a pattern swatch display without the 120MB allocated to the swatch use in the design.

Good catch on the merge vs unite.

Like I said though, this is a destructive technique so make extra layers and hide them or resave the version as Test (or whatever) and solve the problem, then apply the solution to the untouched art.

PS, Illustrator has a 32,000points per path limit. I have no idea what the per file limit is, but if you’re pushing 32,000 nodes in a path, yer doin’ it wrong.

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Given that this is for screen printing where you’re’ likely working with a limited number of opaque inks, I suppose it would be possible to copy and rasterize each of the colored objects to a separate spot color in Photoshop at whatever resolution is needed, then export the separated film positives (or however you’re doing it) from there.

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