In this article I will show you How to flatten an image in Illustrator. Flattening images simply means combining all images you are working on in one layer.
Just like many tasks in Illustrator, the process you follow to do it is relatively easy once you get it. There are also more than one way you can use to achieve the same results. In this article, I will show you 3.
Before you flatten your image however, I recommend you first save a back up vector file as a back up. This is because, after flattening and saving, you will not be able to go back.
How to flatten an image in Illustrator
In this example, we have 4 elements each in its own layer. We have a Man, Helicopter, Text and Background.
- Method 1: use Flatten transparency
- Method 2: use the Layers Panel
- Method 3: using Rasterize
Method 1: Use Flatten transparency
If you want all the elements in your work to be moved to one layer and flattened, you can use the flatten transparency option. Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Click Control + A or Command + A on MAC to select all the elements on the artboard.
Step 2: With the elements selected, go to Object>Flatten Transparency. You will see a pop up menu. Click Ok. If you check the change text to outlines option, the text will be converted to outlines.
Step 3: The elements will be flattened to one layer, but still remain as separate images or vectors. You can delete the other layers.
A flat transparency pop-up appears.
Method 2: Use the Layers Panel
The second way you can do it is flattening from the Layers panel option. We will use the same images.
Step 1: Open the layers panel. You can do this by clicking Window>Layers or F7 shortcut. You will see the layers Panel pop up.
Step 2: Click the 3 lines on the top right corner to bring up the options.
Step 3: Choose Flatten Artwork. All layers and objects will be flattened to one.
Method 3: How to flatten an image using Rasterize option
The final way to do it is not reversible and will convert all objects to raster images from vectors. It will then flatten all elements to one flat image.
Step 1: In the same image we had Select all the objects you would want to flatten by Ctrl + A on Pc or Command + A on MAC.
Step 2: Click on Object>Rasterize from the top menu. A pop up menu comes up. Set your preferred requirements then click ok.
That is it your elements or images are now flattened to one as below. You can delete unwanted layers.
You now know 3 ways you can use to flatten images in Illustrator.
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Can flattening images reduce the quality?
No, the quality of the images will depend on the flattening settings you will input. If you add good ones, the quality will not change.
When should I Flatten images in Illustrator?
Flattening an image is especially useful when you have a large design file with multiple layers as it can help save time and reduce the file size. However, it’s important to note that flattening should be done only when you’re sure it’s the final version of your work, as editing individual layers becomes impossible once they are flattened.
Written by: Denis Maina
I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.