[R] pdf device: rasterize portions of the plot to reduce file size

baptiste auguie ba208 at exeter.ac.uk
Thu Nov 20 12:24:09 CET 2008

Dear list,

My favorite output format is usually pdf. I can include the graphics  
in pdflatex documents and benefit from the scalable nature of vector  
graphic formats.
However, I recently had to generate high-res 2D levelplot graphics as  
in the example below,

N <- 100
# N <- 1000 # slow to diplay
xy <- expand.grid(x=seq(0, 10, length=N), y=seq(0, 10, length=N))

xy <- within(xy, z <- x^2*cos(x*y))


p <- levelplot(z~x*y, data=xy, panel=function(...) 
{panel.levelplot(...); ltext(5, 5, "text")})



With N=1000, this approach produces a hefty pdf file of ~29MB, while  
the png file with default resolution is only 72kB. It is clear that I  
don't want to include the pdf figure in a manuscript, as most pdf  
readers (let alone the printer) will painfully stall when scrolling  
down the document. The png file has a good enough resolution (this  
could be tuned anyway) as far as the levelplot is concerned, however  
the text and labels are evidently converted to bitmap. I would like to  
ask whether there are some alternative ways to combine the "best of  
both worlds" in R, that is to create a pdf file with part of the  
output being an embedded bitmap (the levelplot in this case). Xfig, as  
I recall, has a way to produce two separate files for this kind of  
purpose: one containing the graphical information stripped of  
annotations, the other the labels and axes to be processed by TeX.
On a side note, I noticed that Acrobat Professional can substantially  
reduce the file size (3.4MB), but it does not seem to help some pdf  
readers (Preview on Leopard, for one). I'm open to suggestions of  
auxiliary tools that might help.

Best regards,


R version 2.7.2 Patched (2008-08-25 r46438)


attached base packages:
[1] stats     graphics  grDevices utils     methods   base

other attached packages:
[1] latticeExtra_0.5-1 lattice_0.17-13    baptMisc_1.0        

loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
[1] grid_2.7.2


Baptiste Auguié

School of Physics
University of Exeter
Stocker Road,
Exeter, Devon,

Phone: +44 1392 264187


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