Make Illustrator multi threaded on CPU
Illustrator performance is awful, its slow and lumbering at all but the most basic operations. It is bound to only a single cpu thread which is ridiculous now in an age of multi core and multi thread CPU's and it has been this way for many years. It cannot handle background tasks and is completely out of parity in function and performance with other Adobe software such as photoshop and inDesign.
In this case I re-saved the AI with 'separate AI file for each artboard' checked. So the biggest single file i sent through the RIP was 2GB. It took about 2 mins to send to the printer via ethernet.
I agree that 300dpi is overkill for a rooftop sign, but often I will do interior wall prints in shops which are 2.4m high and anywhere from 2 - 8m long, so they need to be 300dpi. Working at scale 10:1 scale and then upsizing it in the RIP software is perfectly fine for 100% vector artwork, although not really necessary because the file size is small enough that the save time is bearable. Working at scale with embedded raster images would mean my 300dpi embedded PSD files would be printing at 30dpi.
Saving large files isn't the only thing that takes ages because the cpu isn't utilised efficiently. 3D effects, complex blur effects, rasterizing and transparency flattening can also take 1 - 5 minutes at 20% cpu load.
Work in scale and print to intended viewing distance. ie, Billboards are printed at 10 DPI with printers capable of 600 DPI. A huge misconception is making the files 1:1, most RIP software will assist you at making scaled art (lets say 10:1) into 1:1, etc. A high quality 10:1 will print just as good as a 1:1 for most cases. I'd be more worried about pushing a 5gb file through a RIP software then I am .Ai. How long does that take you to send to the printer?
I uploaded a screenshot of the file's workspace so you can see why it's not really appropriate to use a separate file for each artboard. The 20mm bleed overlaps the adjacent artboards in order to allow for any discrepancy between the printed size and the ACP panel size.
Jonathan Clark commented
I agree with @Steve Adobe Illustrator does seem to be under-performing compared to other programs I run that also deal with large files. While the tips & tricks some have posted are useful in many use cases they do not address all use cases and do not fix the problem of an under-performing application that user pay for year after year.
Yeah.. but its a really cool cupholder!!
@Mike is spot on!
Regardless of other tricks/techniques/approaches discussed here, all of which might help, this thread is about multi-threaded processing, and I have 18 cores and most sit idle while processing complex vectors. This is an illustration (pun intended) of where technology has advanced but the software lags (way, way, way) behind.
For what Adobe charges us to "subscribe" to a product that keeps adding incremental features, but doesn't fix the engine is like worrying about a cupholder on the Ferrari when its engine is struggling to fire on all cylinders.
Daniel, you need to to set your raster effects down 100 ppi. 600 is not for large format. 300 dpi is for less than a meter of intended viewing distance.
That's the only reason you're getting those huge file sizes and it is not improving the quality of your rooftop sign design.
You can now link ai files inside illustrator files so that you wouldn't need to even touch Id. Have a composing ai linking to all of the ai/psd assets.
But whatever your workflow adobe should be utilizing multi core CPUs in Illustrator. I have 16 cores that are begging to be pushed.
oh.. and the printer's standard quality setting is 600dpi, but unless its a sign/print which will be visible at close range I usually export raster images at 300dpi.
The 5GB AI file in question is a 4.2m x 1.8m print for a rooftop shop sign. It's comprised of 4 overlapping artboards so that the print is split into four panels to suit the size of the ACP sheets it will be stuck to.
The background is a linked PSD which is tiled about 16 times or something. Theres a layer with a few vectors (some have a drop shadow), the background layer and a print marks layer. This file is roughly 200mb and the PSD is 300mb.
In order to export to a file which will print in my windows based 'HP Flexi Print & Cut' printer software I have to either rasterize or flatten transparency effects, and embed any linked files. This makes it blow out to 5GB.
When i'm working with the file I either have the rasterized /embedded layers hidden and don't embed and linked files until the end, so its fine to work with. Flattening transparency can take a few saves before you get an exported print ready file with no random artifacts, so its quite annoying waiting 5 minutes between each one. It took about 15 minutes when I exported this particular file with 'separate AI file for each artboard' selected.
Please go ahead and let me know if there is a correct/efficient way for me to do this ;)
To avoid huge files and eggs in one basket...
If you know you are going to make raster intensive files...
Step One: Instead of a bunch of artboards make them separate files. PDF capabilities OFF. Always link images.
Step Two: If you need to send off you work to a client or to print; compile those Ai files in InDesign, each .AI file = Id Spread. I prefer to work in scale on a ledger size paper, but to each is own but do whatever your work requires
Step Two Point Five: Any time you update the .Ai files, the InDesign updates automatically.
Step Three: Export with desired quality.
Step Four: Send off to the customer and wonder why you never did this before.
I've done this for years and able to send 50+ page picture and graphics intensive PDFs (w/ each page made in AI) to customers. Doing that much work in a single file is incredibly slow, even for the best computers. More so, if your mega .Ai file gets corrupt you will be out of luck.
Bad design workflow is abundant and a million ways to skin a cat. Not sure if its ignorance but there so many people that unaware of their bad practices. Who cares anyway? As long as the end product is good? Well, some of us will be cranking out 5 jobs for your one. That's why you should care.
5GB AI file? Easy. Work in advertising.
Step 1: Make sure you have multiple artboards with several layouts that each include linked images
Step 2: Save with PDF compatibility enabled
Step 3: (Pro tip) take it a step further by disabling compression.
If you follow these steps, you'll be on your way to large AI files if you take advantage of Illustrator's features besides its original vector drawing tools.
My suggestion is to (always) disable PDF compatibility when saving working files unless you need to send an AI to someone who doesn't have Illustrator, which in that case it's probably best to send a PDF. The downside to this is that the file's preview is disabled. Of course, if you're files are typically small and you rarely use raster images in Illustrator, then none of this really applies.
How do you have a 5GB Illustrator file??? Do you have dozens of hi-res, uncompressed raster images embedded in it? Not gonna lie, I'm really curious how you managed to get an AI file *that* big. Are you even able to work with a file that large in Illustrator or does it just come to a stand still every time you try and scroll-zoom?
5GB .AI file? Files shouldn't be much more than lines, shades, transparencies, and LINKS. You're not doing Illustrator correctly/efficiently and you are putting all your eggs in one basket with one file for everything (never got why people do this.) Also, with large files, turn off PDF compatibility; It will reduce your file size by half.
I have a 2017 iMac with a 4.2ghz i7 cpu, 32GB of ram and SSD is formatted with APFS so a 5gb file can be written to the drive 40 seconds.
It is ridiculous to wait 5 minutes for a 5GB illustrator file to save, when there is 15GB of ram available and while it's saving, the CPU load never goes above 20%.
If Illustrator used the CPU efficiently then I would be happy to go back to a paid subscription,
We need that feature. Or just improve the CUDA support. We need faster Software and the Datas get more and more complex everyday!
Ali Ganum commented
I have the latest MacBook Pro 2018, i9 32GB RAM but Adobe Illustrator is really very very slow, if you compare it to Affinity Designer for example the Affinity Designer will smash Adobe Illustrator in; Opening files, Exporting, Navigating, Zooming in/out the list goes long and long, and Adobe charge us a lot of money more than any creative company, I am so desperate of Adobe, because it makes my workflow slower.
It's not profitable to release a fast software, think about this!
Yes please. Adobe fix the performance problems please. just do a super stable and quick software and cut all extra **** and useless extra functions if they slow down everything. I've been working with Illustrator for years. (Working with high detailed illustrations mostly.) In the beginning everything went smooth. Till I updated to CC. Then things went downhill. In desperation I bought an new iMac Retina 27" late 2014 and this computer was totally useless with illustrator for over a year. Now it works better - but still - my old mid 2011 Imac works much better with illustrator. Not sure if its a Retina thing? I had the chance to beta test Affinity Designer for Ipad. And its clear it is still possible to make stable, super fast, vector softwares. Even for smaller companies like Serif its possible so this should be a piece of cake for a company like Adobe.