How to Export Layers as Transparent PNGs in Illustrator – Save 100s of PNGs in an Instant!

Learn how to export layers as transparent PNGs in Illustrator, no matter how complex your vector artwork is or how many layers it has. With a few clicks, you can save hundreds of PNGs in one go, potentially saving you hours of work.

I run through everything you need in the video tutorial below. Feel free to watch along at your own pace, and see the magic unfold for yourself!

Tutorial Overview

In this tutorial, I cover the following:

  • Understanding your artwork structure – You need to identify what assets you want to export, what groups or layers they sit in, and whether they need to be named or not.
  • Adding assets to the asset export panel – We’ll do this from the layers panel. You need to know at what grouping level assets sit, and we’ll learn why naming your layers is important.
  • Export options – I will go through all the options in the panel, including selecting the PNG or PNG-8 format (see below).
  • Transparency – A big plus of PNG export is the ability to keep a transparent background, which can be done with this technique.
  • Comparing export – Once exported, I’ll show you the difference between exported PNG and PNG-8, and other comparisons, like scaled PNGs.

Difference Between PNG and PNG-8

One of the areas covered in the tutorial is choosing between PNG (often called PNG-24) and PNG-8.

Without going into too much detail, the simple difference is PNG-8 uses less colors. Typically a PNG-8 selects from up to 256 colors, while PNG works with a much larger color palette.

So what does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, PNG-8 files are smaller, because they have less color in them. However, that often means your preferred selected colors may not always make the cut.

When choosing, it comes to the colors you’ve used and how precious you are over those colors. If you live traced, say, a photograph and exported for PNG-8, you’d very quickly notice bands between the colors and shading, because there are fewer colors to choose from. The image may also look dull, or muted.

If you are exporting a singular graphic that uses one color, say standard RGB yellow, then PNG-8 would be more than able to handle that. Hence, you’d get a file that looks fine but is smaller in size.

There’s a lot ground covered in the tutorial, but this technique is a real game changer. I hope this streamlines your workflow and potentially saves you hours of time!