Everything you need to know about Risograph printing.

Posters, flyers, comics, booklets or artwork - it's easier than you think to create beautiful riso prints!


WHAT IS RISOGRAPH?


Risograph printing is a low-cost, eco-friendly print process with a unique aesthetic. Invented in the 80s as a cheap duplicator, riso is now really popular with graphic designers, artists and illustrators.

The process works a lot like screenprinting. Each layer is transferred onto a separate ‘master’, a paper stencil wrapped around the ink drum. The ink is then pushed through the stencil onto the paper. Once the master is made, the machine can reproduce thousands of copies very quickly and cheaply. It’s best used for runs of 50+ prints, but we can do smaller runs too.

Riso isn't like a normal full-colour printer, so it doesn't work for glossy photos - but it's perfect for flyers, posters, artwork, illustrations, comics, booklets, zines, indie mags, programmes, leaflets ... you name it!

Yellow ink drunk extending from Risograph printer

INKS


Riso uses soy based inks, which are non-toxic and eco-friendly. Riso inks are spot colours unique to the process, rather than the usual CMYK. They're very tactile and smudge if handled a lot, and ink coverage is slightly different for each print. 

We have seven ink colours in the Blueprint studio - red, blue, green, yellow, black, fluorescent orange and fluorescent pink. Watch this space – teal coming soon!

All 6 ink colours blending.


RISO inks are semi-transparent, so layering different colours on top of each other results in more colour possibilities. 

Any artwork that's black on screen will print using the full intensity of the ink. You can also use them at lower opacities for a paler effect in print... but if in doubt, go darker!

Misregistration

Because each ink is printed one at a time, colours rarely line up perfectly on top of each other. This gives risograph's distinctive 'misregistration' aesthetic – where the alignment of colours shifts up to 3mm 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 recommend overprinting small details or text as it can make things harder to read, so please bear this in mind when designing your artwork.
Overprinting text risograph example.


ENVIROMENT


RISO printing is the most eco friendly print processes on the planet! Riso is an efficient, low energy process with no harmful emissions and a minimal amount of waste. We print on recycled paper stock using soy based ink, and use local suppliers whenever possible to reduce our impact on the environment.



PAPER

All of our paper stock is recycled and FSC approved. We use 120gsm Corona Offset as standard, and have a selection of special paper to choose from.


Samples of all of our paper stocks.

Paper Stock

  • Corona Offset is our house stock and ideal for most print jobs. Made entirely from post consumer waste. Off-white with a smooth clean surface, in 80gsm, 120gsm, 190gsm and 250gsm.
  • Milkweed is a premium paper stock in slightly speckled ivory. 100% recycled, carbon neutral and made with wind power. Available in 120gsm.
  • Sugarpaper is a coarse, coloured paper – think school jotters! Range of neutrals and low-saturation colours with coarse texture flecked surface. Available in 100gsm or 140gsm.

Have a different kind of paper in mind?

Get in touch and we'll see what we can do!


FILE SETUP



Your artwork should be setup as a greyscale PDF for each ink colour. Booklets need to be sent as a greyscale collated PDF for each colour. With this please also include a full colour proof of your final design. When naming files please make sure to have your name, the ink colour, print size and which side (if applicable) the file is for, e.g CustomerName_inkcolour_Size_Side.pdf. We recommend your files be at least 300dpi however our printer can go up to 600dpi.

The Riso doesn’t print full bleed, so the printable area is a little bit smaller than A3. All artwork must have a 10mm border on all sides.


Example image showing how to lay out files for Risograph

Example image showing how to lay out files for Risograph

TYPE

Set text to registration black for best results, and make sure it isn't rasterized. If the Riso knows it's printing text then it will preserve sharpness and ensure a higher quality print. Riso can print text that is a vector as small as 6pt. Legibility of text deteriorates at lower opacities so try to avoid having light body text. 

INK / SOLID COLOUR

Image of INK / SOLID COLOUR

Riso inks are slightly transparent so you can overlay them to create different tones. The paper stock will also affect how the inks look. To see how overlaid inks look set the blending mode of layers to Multiply on Adobe Illustrator, Indesign or Photoshop.

Full pages of 100% opacity colour aren’t possible and will cause paper jams, however you can print full pages of colour at 75% density or less. Large areas of solid colour might come out uneven because the paper sticks to the drum and causes inconsistent ink coverage.

Heavy ink on the top of the print can also causes paper jams and sticking to the drum, especially when using lighter paper stocks, you can flip your file around 180° to get around this.

IMAGE

Monotone Images

Your images should be saved as greyscale PDFs. The Risograph creates the halftone for the image automatically so there’s no need to add one. If you'd like to use a custom Halftone please see the Halftones section.

CMYK

We can't print an exact CMYK from the riso, however we can use our Black, Blue, Yellow and Fluorescent Orange inks to simulate a CMYK effect. If you need any advice on setting up your files for this, please get in touch over email.

Scanned image of a Monotone Risograph print.
Scanned image of a CMYK risograph print.

HALFTONES

The riso automatically processes files and applies a halftone screen with customizable LPI (38-200) and angles (0-90). If you want a certain LPI and angle please specify when sending in your files.

If you’ve made a custom halftone screen, or a dither pattern that you want to use, you should make your file with that halftone/pattern and export it as a 600 DPI Bitmap file. The printer won’t apply any halftone itself to bitmap files and will use yours instead.

Image of Risograph halftones.