Bug introduced in 10.4.1 or earlier and persisting through 12.0
Bug isn't present in version 8.0.4

I am trying to export a graphic generated by the following code to a .pdf file.

c := 1;
ctoP = 0.80;
P := c/ctoP;
s0 := 0.0;
sf := 1.5;
\[Theta]0 := Pi/180*45;
theta = 
 DSolve[{\[Theta]'[s] == Sqrt[
 2.0 (c + P Cos[\[Theta][s]])], \[Theta][
 0] == \[Theta]0}, \[Theta], s];

elastica = 
  NDSolve[{x'[s] == Cos[\[Theta][s]], y'[s] == Sin[\[Theta][s]], 
  x[0] == 0, y[0] == 0} /. theta, {x, y}, {s, s0, sf}];

deformed = 
 ParametricPlot[{x[s], y[s]} /. elastica, {s, s0, sf}, 
  PlotPoints -> 500, Frame -> False, Axes -> False,

  FrameStyle -> Black,

  PlotPoints -> 200,

  PlotStyle -> {Black, 

  PlotRange -> {{-8, +8}, {-2, 4}},

  ImageSize -> Large

Export["figure.pdf", deformed, ImageResolution -> 1500]

The file "figure.pdf" obtained has the following unwanted features (highlighted using red ovals) on it:

enter image description here

Interestingly enough, these features do not appear if the file is exported as a .png or .jpeg.

I've also tried exporting the graphic as an .eps file, but the problem still remains.

I need the file in .pdf format because I don't want my figures to be rasterized.

How can I get rid of these artifacts on the pdf and obtain a nice smooth curve?

  • $\begingroup$ Which Mathematica version and PDF viewer do you use? With Mathematica 8.0.4 on Windows 7 x64 I do not see the artifacts when open the PDF by Adobe Acrobat 11: screensnhot. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2017 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ I am using Mathematica version on macOS Sierra (version 10.12.5). To open the PDFs, I use Preview. $\endgroup$
    – Neo
    Jun 10, 2017 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ Please report this to the official tech support. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2017 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


This looks like a bug in PDF export. I do reproduce it with version 10.4.1 and 11.1.1 but not with version 8.0.4 on Windows 7 x64.

In order to ensure that it is not due to the other functions used I saved the deformed plot generated by Mathematica 8.0.4 and then imported it into more recent versions for further exporting as PDF:

(* in Mathematica 8.0.4 *)

deformed >> deformed.m

(* in more recent versions *)

Export["figure.pdf", << deformed.m] // SystemOpen

Here is how the files exported from versions 10.4.1 and 11.1.1 are rendered by Adobe Acrobat 11:


And here is how the file exported from Mathematica 8.0.4 is rendered:


  • $\begingroup$ I think I have found a work around to this problem. If you reduce the number of PlotPoints to about 100, this issue goes away. $\endgroup$
    – Neo
    Jun 29, 2017 at 13:05

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