I have a very detailed vector map I want to export from QGIS (2.18.3) into Illustrator. Unfortunately, it's having some problems:

  • Print Composer > Save as SVG errors out, yielding an invalid SVG (and mangles the print composer as well, so I can't use it again for anything & have to make a new one). The error is "std::bad_alloc"
  • Print Composer > Save as PDF succeeds, but when I open the PDF in Illustrator a significant number of polygons are mangled (it looks ok in Mac Preview)
  • Print Composer > Print > Save as PDF (i.e. the system PDF generator) produces a smaller file than the QGIS save as PDF, but with similar mangled polygons.

Do I have any other feasible options for getting my lovely map out of QGIS in a vector format? Is there a way I can fix up my file in QGIS so its export functions do not crash?

  • If your original project is really "heavy" try to split your work and make some lighter svg files. Try exporting layer by layer or find a filtering logic so that each exported svg files are workable ... I think u should then be able to stack the exported svg in Illustrator. It looks to me you're asking a bit too much to your computer ...
    – Snaileater
    Oct 31, 2017 at 9:22
  • Do the exported PDFs look OK in viewers other than Preview?
    – Simbamangu
    Oct 31, 2017 at 14:33
  • Could you share one of the PDFs (Dropbox link?) as an example?
    – Simbamangu
    Nov 1, 2017 at 5:46
  • I can't share them, unfortunately; I don't have permission to share the data. I eventually solved this by simplifying the geometries with ogr2ogr, but this isn't always going to be a feasible solution. (I am not sure if this solved it by reducing the number of points or by correcting inconsistencies in the geometries themselves.) Nov 6, 2017 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


There are known limitations with save to SVG due to design issues with the Qt component that performs this function.

I don't know why saving to PDF causes problems - I save to PDF all the time and it comes out fine. I open the PDFs in Microsoft Word and copy the images into a word document and they look just as good as the original. There must be an issue with Illustrator that is causing this?


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