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Designer - How to optimise/reduce project file size, best practices?


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Hi everybody,

 

I'm currently working on a little booklet with Designer.

I know, it's not the software for booklets, but I'm not fun of Scribus, and I don't have a licence for Indesign... and I'm waiting for Serif to publish their publisher software solution.

 

So here's my problem, the booklet is full of images (it's a little comic book) and having 30 pages more or less, the file size raised the 315 MB!

 

Which means an average of 2 GB of RAM used right after opening the project.

 

Only some of the images are embedded as the Assistant has rasterized them when I've used Pixel Persona to blur some areas.

But I can edit the original files and re-import them as external, no problem.

 

Anyway, the project file size is still huge.

 

Any suggestion on how to reduce it?

Any best practice for working with big files in Designer?

 

 

Consider that:

  • format is A5
  • all the images have a dimension that grants an average of 200dpi (shorter side is 1080px)
  • All images are masked in order to stay inside the comic layout so they could be cropped a bit

Here an image to make all this a bit more clear.

In one picture you'll see that the image is masked

 

Thanks

post-49631-0-64636000-1489100677_thumb.png

post-49631-0-51491600-1489100678_thumb.png

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Pandorino,

 

First of all, you are correct, Designer isn't the best program to this kind of project in. Normally a Page Layout program would be best but until Affinity Publisher is released your choices are limited. Maybe take the Adobe trial or see if Quark has a trial?

 

Did you make the 30 pages in one Designer document and use different artboards for different pages? If so, then maybe you could break the document down into readers spreads (or printers spreads) to keep the files smaller. Once you are done, export the files as PDF files and the combine them later (if you are using OS X you can use Preview to combine them). That would make the file more manageable. To me 315 mb isn't that big. I sometimes have files (only a single page) that are near a gig. 

 

Also, are all of the images in your project like the ones in your attached screenshots? They almost look like they were vectorized at one point, were they? If they were, then you shouldn't rasterize them but you should use the vectors. If they were never vectorized, then you could look into vectorizing them. Normally photos that are vectorized look slightly fuzzy and lack detail but your images look like that now so why not vectorize them? It would help to keep the file size down. Some people here use Inkscape to rasterize images (free), others use VectorMagic (not free), some use Potrace (Free I think). 

 

I hope that helps,

Hokusai

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@Hokusai

 

thanks for the answer.

 

I thought that 315 MB was big because of the 2 GB RAM used and the fact that frequently Designer kind of freeze some seconds when I manage the images.

 

Yes, they are all artboards and I thought the same you're suggesting, breaking the file into 2 or 3, that's probably what I'm going to do in the end. Anyway, I was curious to see what best practices the community were suggesting as for Illustrator there are tons of tutorials and manuals but for the Affinity products, the offer is lower and it's interesting to see how other users would manage this situation.

 

Regarding the images, they are not vectors, I've applied an art filter with a mobile app and imported them on my laptop. So fully raster.

 

Thanks again for your answer.

If someone else has different opinions/ideas, pls post them.

I'm curious to hear them

 

:)

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Hmm, yes some sort of DTP layout software might be better suited here, especially one which is then also capable of just holding a reference to all the images, instead of embedding those into the project file. So you could keep the main layout file lean in contrast and leave the accompanied images on a project folder. - I recall that tools like FrameMaker (an ideal one for bigger contents book production etc.) could do so, though some text processing suite apps might possibly can too. Even the later (text processors like Word, LibreOffice, MS Publisher etc.) aren't thus flexible in terms of layouting here.

 

If you are on Windows you could try also Serifs PagePlus for this task (I think they also had a free starter edition version of that one, though it might be a functional very stripped down version).

 

And then there are also some dedicated Comic creation tools like Comic Life and Comic Book Creator etc.

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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I am not sure why you think 315 MB is overly large for a document containing about 30 A5 sized artboards, each potentially with several images. Consider the total number of images in the document -- each of them minimally will require enough file space to store their pixels at their native pixel dimensions, plus their masks & any other data that might be needed to undo or change any non-destructive edits performed on them.

 

Likewise, 2 GB of RAM used does not seem to me to be excessive for a document this complex. Modern memory management systems are designed to retain data in RAM even if it is not currently being used & release it only when it is needed for something else. This can boost performance considerably because it takes much longer to reload data from disk if or when it is needed again than to leave it in memory. So for example, if the document loads with all artboards visible, as much data as is needed to render them all on screen will load into memory, & as you zoom in or out the memory used to buffer each view will be retained until & unless it is needed for something else.

 

If the app seems sluggish, you might try hiding some of the artboards you are not currently working on.

Affinity Photo 1.10.5, Affinity Designer 1.10.5, Affinity Publisher 1.10.5;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
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If you are on Windows you could try also Serifs PagePlus for this task (I think they also had a free starter edition version of that one, though it might be a functional very stripped down version).

 

PagePlus Starter Edition is limited to five pages for new documents, so it wouldn't be suitable for this even if it were still available. Now that PagePlus is a 'legacy' application (with support for new purchases only available via CommunityPlus, not direct from Serif Technical Support) PagePlus X9 is priced at £20/$30.

 

http://www.serif.com/pageplus

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Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher for Windows 1.10 • Windows 10 Home/Pro
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.10 • Designer for iPad 1.10 • iPadOS 15.6.1 (iPad Air 2)

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@v_kyr and @Alfred,

 

I don't think I'll go for PagePlus X9 for the reasons that Alfred exposed.

 

@R C-R

 

I don't think that there is something wrong with the file size, I'm aware that the number of images I have is the cause and of course the size is big. Just wanted to explore the experience of the community to see if there were ideas/solutions to work better, without Designer to freeze constantly. Like the good idea you brought, of keeping few images inside the view so the RAM is loaded with them only. Thanks!  :)

 

So I've tested saving the file with all the artboards view set off and working with only a maximum of 3 pages (artboards) visible per time.

The RAM load dropped to 850 MB, super acceptable and now the workflow is fluid.

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So I've tested saving the file with all the artboards view set off and working with only a maximum of 3 pages (artboards) visible per time.

The RAM load dropped to 850 MB, super acceptable and now the workflow is fluid.

Good to hear that this helps. I am curious about two things:

 

1. If you save the document with some/most of the artboards hidden, does the file size change? This seems to reduce the file size for some but not all of my Affinity Designer documents.

 

2. How do you determine the RAM usage of the app? I see from your second screenshot that you are running AD on Windows. I am running it on a Mac. The Mac OS provides the Activity Monitor app for that, but determining exact usage values is complicated because apps share some memory with other apps & processes, reserve some for their private use, free up & load data dynamically at rates that can be too quick for the monitor app's update frequency to catch, & so on. I assume something similar applies to Windows.

Affinity Photo 1.10.5, Affinity Designer 1.10.5, Affinity Publisher 1.10.5;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.5.280 & Affinity Designer 1.10.5 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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First of all, I'm on Win 10 and have a free tool installed called Advanced SystemCare that in its many many functions, it also analyses the RAM usage and allow me to wipe it if needed, or close software that is using too much memory for no reason. (See the images attached)
 
So, here are my tests:

  • Saved in a blank area - no difference
  • Saved with all artboards visibility off - no difference
  • Opened (only 2 artboards in viewport because of zoom, all artboards visibility were on) - RAM used by Designer was 687 MB (see attached image)
post-49631-0-87087000-1489178565_thumb.png
  • Zoomed out to fit all the artboards and moved around a couple of them - RAM went up to 1.28 GB (see attached image)
post-49631-0-44700900-1489178575_thumb.png

 

At the end makes sense that working in a big area the RAM in use increases, so probably my problem last time was that I've been working on that file for a couple of hours and the RAM must have gone up and up. I should have closed Designer for a minute and cleaned the RAM before re-open on a close view.
 
Also: I too knew that thing of saving on a blank space to save a bit of disk. I knew it for Photoshop, placing a solid colored layer on top of the others before to save reduces the file size a bit. So I tried on Affiinity Photo and yes, the filesize is reduced but only by a bunch of KB :huh: ... probably because the thumbnail of the file now is different.

post-49631-0-87087000-1489178565_thumb.png

post-49631-0-44700900-1489178575_thumb.png

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I am not at all familiar with Advanced SystemCare but from your screenshots, I doubt the Performance Monitor even comes close to showing you the details of RAM use necessary to determine if any app is using "too much" of it, except possibly in extreme cases. As I mentioned, modern memory management systems are too complex for a single number to tell you if an app is using RAM efficiently. What matters above all else from a performance standpoint is if an app is using so much RAM that the system has to page out chunks of it to disk to make room for RAM needed for other things. If that isn't happening, then the app is not using too much of it.

 

Also, because page outs can happen because other processes (including system level ones) need more RAM, it is necessary to look at all running processes together to determine why it is occurring. Yet another thing to consider is these apps cannot continuously monitor RAM use -- if they did they would be using more system time & resources than all other processes, so what they actually do is sample RAM use at infrequent enough intervals to prevent bogging everything down to a crawl. If they claim they are doing anything continuously, they are lying to you.

Affinity Photo 1.10.5, Affinity Designer 1.10.5, Affinity Publisher 1.10.5;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
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1.10.5.280 & Affinity Designer 1.10.5 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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For monitoring various software behaviour purposes on Windows systems some of the Windows Sysinternals tools are valuable here, especially their Process Explorer and Process Monitor etc. The author of those tools has deeper and first hand knowledge of the Windows system, one of the reasons MS some years ago took him over to their company.

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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Good article on windows 10 memory leak problem (Do Not mess with the registry fix he mentions unless you really know what you're doing) https://www.techworm.net/2017/01/how-to-fix-high-cpu-usage-ram-leakage-windows-10-pc.html I don't know if Microsoft has issued a patch for this yet but it's interesting that you see this behavior with Affinity.

 

Windows has a better resource monitor already built in. You just have to turn it on. See this article http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-use-windows-10s-resource-monitor-to-track-memory-usage/

 

I have Advanced System Care installed as well but I rely on the windows resource manager instead.

Skill Level: Beginner, digital photography, digital editing, lighting.

Equipment: Consumer grade. Sony Nex5n, Nikon D5100, (16MP sony sensors)

Paid Software: Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, Lightroom4

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Windows has a better resource monitor already built in. You just have to turn it on. See this article http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-use-windows-10s-resource-monitor-to-track-memory-usage/

Much of what that article says about how the memory management system works on Windows is very similar to how it does on Macs. For both, as the article says free memory is wasted memory, so all other things being equal a lot of free memory is not desirable, contrary to what a lot of users of both platforms think.

Affinity Photo 1.10.5, Affinity Designer 1.10.5, Affinity Publisher 1.10.5;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.5.280 & Affinity Designer 1.10.5 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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