Learn the basics of riso printing
RISO transforms your greyscale artwork into shades of your chosen ink colour
Any areas that are black onscreen will be printed with full ink density, and any lighter areas will be printed in paler shades.
Each ink colour is printed separately
A two-colour print in blue and orange requires two PDF files – one file with all the blue artwork and one with all the orange artwork (both greyscale!)
RISO prints up to A3 size
Include a blank 10mm margin at the edge of the page, and tile any smaller artwork onto an A3 sheet.
Create your design
Use tracing paper or a lightbox to draw each colour layer separately, or use Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign to create a digital layer for each colour
Send your artwork
Email us a separate PDF file for each colour layer (full instructions below)
We’ll print it!
We print each colour one at a time and layer them up to make a multi-coloured riso print.
Sending your files
How to provide print-ready files for riso
- Send a separate grayscale PDF for each ink colour
- Name your files clearly, eg. yourname_artwork_inkcolour.pdf
- Your file should be A3 size (420 x 297mm)
- Leave a minimum of 10mm blank margins on each edge
(maximum printable area of 400 x 277mm)
- Files should be 300dpi resolution
- Flatten any layers before exporting your PDF
- Please include a full colour proof of your final design
Email your files to firstname.lastname@example.org
If they’re too large to send over email, please use WeTransfer
Make your booklets riso-ready
Booklets require a slightly different setup as they need to be paginated before print. This means laying out each page side-by-side, so the front cover is next to the back cover.
Here’s an example for an 8-page A5 booklet, printed on one double-sided sheet of A3. Remember to include 10mm blank margins on each edge, with 20mm between each spread.
We recommend making a physical mockup of your booklet to make sure all your pages are in the right place.
Choose your colours
We have 10 ink colours in the Blueprint studio: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, teal, fluorescent orange and fluorescent pink.
You can use any combination of these, though we recommend limiting your design to 1-3 colours per print as each new colour means an extra print pass.
Riso uses soy inks, which are non-toxic and eco-friendly. Because they’re real ink they’re very tactile and nice to touch – they can smudge easily, and will sometimes leave print marks if printing double-sided or using more than one colour. Any smudges or roller marks can be tidied up with an eraser.
Inks can be used at full intensity or at a lower opacity for a paler effect.
The darkness of your greyscale artwork will roughly correspond to the intensity of the ink in print. Any artwork that’s black on screen will print using the full saturation of the ink, and any pale grey artwork will come out as a pale tone. Prints often come out lighter than you’d expect, so if in doubt, go darker!
It’s not possible to colour match with riso as the ink coverage will always vary between prints. Please bear in mind we cannot guarantee prints will match what you see on your computer screen, and the colour will change slightly from print to print.
Choose your paper type, colour and weight
Context Natural is our house stock and ideal for most print jobs.
Off-white with a smooth clean surface, made entirely from post consumer waste.
Available in 90gsm, 150gsm or 190gsm for a little extra.
All of our paper stock is recycled and FSC approved. We use 150gsm Context Natural as standard, and have a selection of special paper to choose from.
Sugarpaper is a coarse, coloured paper – think school jotters! This comes in a range of neutrals and low-saturation colours with a coarse, texture-flecked surface. Good for posters, flyers and lo-fi zines. Colours can fade a little over time if left in direct sunlight. Available in 100gsm or 140gsm.
Context Colours are vibrant papers great for adding colour to your print job. Black ink looks good on everything, or try blue on blue, teal on green or fluo pink on yellow.
Available in 140gsm, with heavier stocks available on request (minimum orders apply)
Loop papers are our most eco-friendly stock: 100% recycled, carbon neutral and made with wind power. Milkweed is a slightly speckled ivory, and Straw is a warm, mottled brown. Both available in 120gsm.
Evercolour is a lightweight paper good for low-cost flyers and posters.
Available in Rose and Blue.
Have a different kind of paper in mind?
Get in touch and we’ll see what we can do!
Now you know the basics, take your prints to the next level!
Each ink is printed one at a time, so colours rarely line up perfectly on top of each other. This gives riso’s distinctive ‘misregistration’, where the alignment of colours shifts between each print. This is an inherent part of the process and makes each print totally unique – part of why we love riso.
We don’t usually suggest overprinting small details or text as they won’t always line up perfectly. Each print can vary by 3mm in any direction, so please bear this in mind when designing your artwork and include trapping if necessary. Or embrace the imperfection!
RISO inks are semi-transparent, so inks can be printed on top of each other for more colour options.
Use the ‘multiply’ blend mode in photoshop to see an approximation of how your design might look in print.
Riso can work well with monochrome photographs. If your photo looks good in black and white, chances are it’ll work well on RISO. Try bumping up the contrast, as images often come out paler than you expect.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try using Black, Blue, Yellow and Fluo Pink inks to simulate a CMYK effect.
For best results, make sure any body text (12pt or smaller) is set to registration black in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign – even if you’re not printing using black ink!
If the Riso knows it’s printing text it will preserve sharpness and ensure a higher quality print. We recommend not using Photoshop to set type, as this means it is rasterised and no longer ‘read’ by the machine as text.
Legibility of text deteriorates drastically at lower opacities, so avoid printing body text or important information in pale colours – save that for large titles or decorative text.
Avoid using ‘knockout’ or white text, as the riso isn’t reading the text but rather the area around the text, so it’s not as sharp. We don’t recommend using white text on two-colour prints as these will not line up perfectly, meaning it will not be very readable in print.
Riso wasn’t intended to print full pages of ink, and we can’t print full pages of 100% opacity colour – too much ink means the paper sticks to the ink drum and causes all sorts of problems! Any large blocks of ink should ideally be set to 75% density or less, and please bear in mind that large areas of solid colour can have inconsistent ink coverage.
If your artwork has too much solid black it can crash the print drivers which means the file just won’t print. In these cases we suggest that you reduce the intensity of coverage, or even invert the design to have more white areas than black.
In particular, heavy ink on the top edge of the print are more susceptible to inky roller marks, and sometimes result in a line of ink dragged down the centre of the page. If you only have heavy ink on one edge, you might be able to rotate your file 180° to get around this issue.
RISO automatically processes greyscale files as a Bitmap, and makes the image up out of dots either in a grain pattern (Grain Touch) or by applying a halftone screen (Screen-covered).
At the print stage, we also have the option to adjust the LPI (38-200) and angles (0-90) for the halftone screen.
We’re usually pretty good at choosing the right options for each image, but if you want to use a particular setting please specify when sending in your files.
Out of the Blueprint
The Drill Hall
32-36 Dalmeny Street
Edinburgh EH6 8RG
Tue – Fri, 10am – 5pm
pickup by appointment
0131 555 4604
Out of the Blueprint was set up in 2015 as part of the #artcore youth arts project, supported by Creative Scotland’s
Time to Shine initiative, Young Start and The Robertson Trust.
We are currently supported by Baillie Gifford, the William Grant foundation, Creative Scotland and The Robertson Trust.