Vector Art Resource: All Silhouettes

This FREE vector art resource is for silhouettes of people in action that can save time. My architect husband shared the website with me, it’s one of his favorite places to download vector art people for his renderings.

As helpful as they are, these silhouettes have a ton of anchor points – many more than are necessary to create a detailed silhouette of a figure in Adobe Illustrator.

anchor points

The more anchor points your Illustrator file contains, the larger it will be, and vector art with too many unnecessary anchor points is harder to edit. I’m guessing these were created by vectorizing a photograph using Illustrator’s Live Trace, or Image Trace feature.

Editing Vector Art with Simplify

Fortunately, it’s easy to remove anchor points in vector art without losing necessary detail. You’ll save yourself from creating large and complex files with the following steps:

1. Download, unzip and open the .ai file in Illustrator

2. Make a copy of the silhouette you want to work with (leaving the original undisturbed).

vector art editing

3. Select the copy and choose Object > Path > Simplify. Check preview to see the results.

4. Set Curve Precision to 99%. Notice the original vs. current number of anchor points displayed. Hit ok.

Even with a precision setting as high as 99% we’ve managed to reduce the number of anchor points in this art from 162 to 102 points. Some free vector art that you find online will work with an even lower precision setting, like 98 or 97%. The setting depends on the art you’re using and the size you intend to use it at. Making a copy before using the Simplify command will make it easier to compare results. Note: because this art has more curves than straight line segments, we did not  check the “straight lines” option.

Editing Vector Art with the Smooth Tool

The loss of detail is minimal at 99%, but if the results from Simplify are not to your liking, you can also use the Smooth Tool for removing anchor points from a specific area of your vector stock art.

Select the silhouette copy and choose the Smooth Tool. By running the Smooth Tool along a path, you can remove anchor points. This is something that works best with a tablet and pen. Zoom in closely on the area you want to work on and smooth in one small area at a time. You may need to undo (command/control Z) occasionally as you work if you remove too much detail with a stroke of the smooth tool. Double click the Smooth Tool in the Tool Panel to adjust it’s settings. The tool will follow your movements on the tablet more closely when you set the Fidelity and Smoothness options to lower numbers.



  1. I tried the silhouette website but I can’t find a download that works for ‘common people’. Can you post the direct link?

    • Hi Kathy, I agree, the download links are hard to find because there are a lot of ads on that site. I wouldn’t put the download link here, since it’s not my art. But go to the page for common people: and scroll down to where you see the end of the post, above the comments and the “related vector silos” and you’ll see a wide black box that spans the column and says “Download Free Common People for Architecture.” I’ve looked at this set in the past and anchor-point wise, they are not as complex as the other silos I’ve looked at, so they may not need much “simplifying.”

  2. Thanks for this link. This is really helpful.