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Adobe Illustrator/Can't open the illustration. Offending operator 'crop'


QUESTION: When i try to open my freshly made illustration (containing several images), I get the error:

Can't open the illustration. The illustration contains an illegal or misplaced operator.
Offending operator: 'crop'


I am using Adobe Illustrater CS4 (14.0.0).

The file I am opening contains 15 artboards, all with many images on each page. It shows the first few art boards without errors, but the last are all blank. Using preview, before opening the file, everything looks fine. Some of the pictures placed in the artboards are saved in folders called "crop". Could this be the problem?

Please help! Otherwise I am facing several hours of redoing the illustration, before I can export as .PDF (already redid the illustration, without exporting, and got the same god d*** error when opening the file).


ANSWER: Hi Maiken,

When you say "images" do you mean placed or embedded images in your file or is it all vector artwork? The only other time I have heard of this kind of an error is when you have a HUGE Illustrator file with many artboards and a lot of placed graphics.

Illustrator is not a page layout program like InDesign and is not meant to handle artboards like pages of a document. If you do have a lot of placed images it may be that one of them has a very large image area that has been cropped and is conflicting with Illustrator reading the file.

I've searched all the tech documents I could find on this issue and there does not seem to be a solution to get the file to open up. When you do open it, are you able to see anything in Outline mode?

My suggestion is to break this file into smaller sections so all your eggs are not in one basket and then you can find the offending image and not loose the entire file.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Yes, i mean placed images. I guess they are quite big in size, so maybe i should try to divide them into different files. Otherwise, i guess i can try Indesign, although i am not to familiar with this program for this kind of purpose... I do see some of the images, when i open the file (and get the error message...).

Thank you very much for your reply!


Hi Maiken,

Thats what I thought. This error usually means placed images that are too large for the document. If you can find the image(s) that are causing the problem, you could avoid them, but it would be best to use InDesign as it wont give you an issues with the images.



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Kevin Stohlmeyer


I am an Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Community Professional and Adobe Freelance Professional. I travel nationally speaking on Adobe Creative Suite applications, including Illustrator and design. I can answer questions about Adobe Illustrator version CS1 through the all-new Creative Cloud.


I am an Adobe Certified Instructor for Adobe Illustrator and have been teaching this software in college/higher education and for an Adobe Authorized Training Center since 2000. I have been an active user of Adobe Illustrator as a professional graphic designer since 1994. I am also the author of the Adobe Illustrator Certified Expert Exam. I am a published author for Adobe Inspire Magazine, writing articles on Creative Suite applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and the Adobe Touch apps.

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