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Affinity Designer - Don't store images unconpressed in document. More detailed rasterize options.

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File size matters !

I use designer for web-design. As long as you work with pure vector and text, designer is a quite handy tool (despite some annoying bugs). But as soon, as you place images (typical workflow for webdesign) in your layout, it becomes really inconvenient.

The filesize of the layout document EXPLODES and becomes really unpredictable. The size of a designer layout document becomes far bigger than the sum file sizes of the placed original compressed JPG or PNG images. I read somewhere in the forums, designer and photo store placed bitmaps uncompressed with the layout file - to speed up document loading? However, in my opinion this behaviour is not practicable.

Some people may say: disk space is cheap, so why be so miserly? But first of all, all documents have to be backuped. And when it comes to data transfer it's a big difference if i can send e.g. a 20 MB file as email attachment or have to upload a huge 200 MB file to some document cloud. Filesize also means waste of time and other resources.

We know the problem of Photoshop local smart objects. But PS stores/attaches the underlying bitmap data in it's original compressed format (JPG, TIFF, PNG etc.) and only points to it when rerendering an instace. I guess this is the correct method. If i have to transform the smart object instance later (e.g. design changes by customer), PS can allways rely on the original high resolution pixel data. But the PS document size increases only for the amount of the rendered instance layer + original bitmap attachment. It's even possible, to edit the smart object in place (isolation mode) and reduce the original bitmap resolution (destructive scale) without touching the instance position and size. In essence the filesize of the whole PS document is far smaller than a comparable AD document and approximately predictable.

In essence: placed/imported images should either NOT be stored within the document. OR if stored within the document, then in it's original file format and compression. Placed images should not blow up the overall document size in the way they do now.

 

Designer workaround - the rasterize dilema

The only way i found to minimize document filesize is, to rasterize placed images, so they become a local pixel layer. This reduces overall filesize but the result is stil unpredictable. Sometimes the document becomes soon very small after rasterizing a high resolution image layer and saving the document again. Sometimes it becomes even bigger - later it becomes smaller again. So it seems, that redundant pixel data is not cleaned up at every save procedure?

The bad thing: the document becomes smaller at the end, but now i loose everey connection between the bitmap layer and the orginal placed image. AND i loose every layer effects!

I even don't know what was the original scaled size of my old bitmap. If i have to do design changes lateron (we all know our customers...) i have to spend extra time to search the orginal image, place it in its actual size, rebuild layer effects (hopefully made some notes in the layer label). After that extra work i can do the actual design changes. Much, much extra time spent! To prevent this, next time i leave the original image in the document and have - yes a huge file again :-(

Another impractical point of rasterizing is the lack of control over pixel density. I'm talking about real count of pixels in the bitmap NOT the relative dpi (document settings). There is an ellipsis beneath the menu item "Layer -> Rasterize..." that meant to show an additional settings dialogue before rasterization is done. But there are no raster options to set. The document dpi has no effect on how the layer is rendered - to say how many pixels are created from the layer. And the rasterized quality is only moderate - seems to be 72dpi with method bilinear?

There should be precise settings for the rasterize command:

- absolute resolution: means, how many pixels are rendered per inch/cm (presets or explicit manual setting).

- relative dpi (relevant for print)

- render method: there should be an option for high quality rasterization of layers - e.g. bicubic andd so on.

Simply compare this to the slice settings in the export persona.

 

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Storing the images uncomressed isn't necessarily the problem, even Illustrator does the same thing (or maybe CC doesn't anymore, but I refuse to move off CS6). But not having the ability to choose whether to link or embed the image is where the real issue lies, in my opinion. I love AD but the one thing keeping me from using it professionally is not being able to link images instead of embedding them. If I'm working on a print ad for a client I may go through 4-5 revisions before final approval, and I save revisions as separate files so if there's ever a need to go back to an earlier revision it's no big deal, but when each file can easliy balloon to 500MB-1.5GB, that's just ridiculous, while with Illustrator each file is around 5-10MB.

I've been linking images with Illustrator for as long as it's been an option. Even back on a crappy MacBook (non-Pro) from 2008 there has never been an issue with performance vs. embedded images, so that explanation doesn't really hold any relevance to me. And it certainly was not an issue on my MacPro, nor on my later i7 or current Ryzen PCs.

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Affinity Photo 1.7.0.367, Affinity Designer 1.7.0.367, Affinity Publisher Beta. Affinity Store.
Windows 10 Pro, Version 1903, Build 18362.145.
Latitude E5570, i5-6440HQ 2.60 GHz, 8 GB, Intel HD Graphics 530, 1920 x 1080.

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