RISOGRAPH PRINT GUIDE
Please read this print guide and our T&C's carefully before booking any Risograph printing, so you're familiar with the process and understand whether it's the right choice for your project.
Click right for our quick reference print guide, colour chart and artwork templates.
We print everything in-house using two machines, which print one colour at a time on 80-250gsm A3 paper. Thousands of prints can be created from one master stencil; therefore Risograph is most economical when used for higher volume printing with fewer layers. That said, we can still print low volume orders and multiple colours, depending on the artwork and paper stock.
Artworks are sent to the Riso printer via a computer connection or manually through the scanner bed, just like a photocopier. The machine then burns the artwork onto a roll of thermal sensitive paper and wraps this around the print drum, creating a stencil from which hundreds or thousands of prints can be made. Paper is then fed into the machine where it presses against the rotating drum and stencil to print the exposed image. Each colour is printed using a separate drum and must be done in layers, one on top of the other. Using little power and soy based ink, the Riso is very environmentally friendly. Inks can be used independently or layered at different opacities to make new colours, as the they are semi-transparent.
With it’s signature look of very tactile, flat colours which ‘pop’ off the page, Risograph works really well with layered graphics, text, illustrations and photographs. Almost anything can be Riso printed including posters, art prints, flyers, postcards, stationery, business cards, zines, vinyl/CD/cassette covers, packaging, tags, menus, leaflets, maps and stickers. The Risograph doesn't produce 'perfect' print results and finished prints will look different to digital designs. Although we print from digital files, Risograph is more of an analogue method and layers have to be aligned and adjusted manually. Each print will be slightly different, with mis-registration between layers and visual imperfections. Its limitations and imperfections are what makes Risograph prints unique and when used in a creative and intelligent way, produces outstanding results!
This page should contain everything you need to know to create Risograph prints, or you can check out our FAQ's.
● Maximum paper size is A3 - 297 x 420mm
● Maximum printable area is 277 x 400mm
A 10mm blank border should be left around the edge of artwork, as the Riso can't print full bleed. We print onto A3 paper and trim down as necessary, so you'll get 2 x A4 copies / 4 x A5 copies / 8 x A6 copies from each A3 sheet. We can also trim to custom sizes and full bleed designs by setting crop marks plus 3.5mm bleed - download our artwork templates here.
REGISTRATION & OVERLAYS
Each colour is printed layer one at a time and registration is controlled manually, therefore one of the Risograph's signature quirks is that there's always a couple of millimetres mis-alignment between layers. The more layers in your design, the higher the chance of mis-registration, as the paper passes through the machine separately for each colour. Double sided prints are particularly difficult to align between back and front, so we don't recommend designs where duplex alignment is crucial. For heavier coverage, multiple layers or double-sided printing, you will need to choose a heavier weight paper.
You should not expect 100% alignment with Risograph!
As Riso inks are semi-transparent, you can overlay them to create new shades and interesting effects. The only exception is metallic gold, which sits on the surface of other inks and is very opaque. Risograph inks change appearance depending on what colour paper they're printed onto, for example fluo pink ink on yellow paper will appear more orange. You can choose to set your design to overlay, where colours will sit on top of each other and ‘mix’, or you can knock out your design if you want each colour to be independent. Adding trapping to your design will help minimise any gaps due to mis-registration. This is a guide from Adobe on trapping.
Overlaying inks to make new shades means you can use less stencils for your prints, reducing the cost and chance of mis-registration and printer marks. A helpful way to check the results of overlaying colours is to set your layers to ‘multiply’ in Adobe; this will give you a rough idea of how your design will look. We also offer free of charge digital proofs prior to printing. Setting your artwork layers to lower opacities is great for mixing inks and is recommended for large areas of colour, to avoid inky paper and printer jams. You can also set gradients within artwork to achieve a faded effect - gradients should start from 20-30% opacity at the lighter end, fading into 90-100% at the darker end.
FILE SET UP
● We need flattened, 300dpi greyscale PDF files to print from
● Files should be 297 x 420mm (A3) size with no extra bleed or margins - we have Photoshop & Illustrator templates available here
● Provide a separate file for each colour layer, labelled with your name, project name and ink colour
● We need a full colour artwork file for reference - this can be PDF, JPG, PNG
● Files should be greyscale - use HEX #00000 or 100% K for solid black
● Text should be flattened or outlined and set to 6pt or larger - vector is best for crisp results
● Leave a 10mm blank border as the Risograph cannot print full bleed
● For full bleed prints, crop marks and 3.5mm bleed should be set inside the 10mm blank border - we have Photoshop & Illustrator templates available here
● For photographs, we need separated channel layers or we offer a photography processing service - contact us for details
● For publications, artwork should be set up for correct page pagination onto A3 sheets - contact us for assistance
The Riso reads levels of black (not colour). For example, 100% black in your file will print at 100% ink colour and 50% black will print at 50% ink colour. The lightest level in your artwork should be 20% or above, as the printer cannot correctly read levels of grey below this.
All files are printed exactly as received and we cannot be held responsible for any mistakes, although we will flag any obvious errors if we spot them. Our studio time is charged at £25 ph for any file amendments required.
Heavy ink coverage
Large areas of dense ink do not print very well, causing the paper to jam or get stuck to the drum. You should set large areas of colour to an opacity of 70% or less. Large areas of ink can also produce 'waves' where ink is wetter in some parts than others. Instead of printing a full colour background, we recommend printing onto coloured paper for a better result.
Roller & pick-up marks
The top 5cm or so of the paper is fed into the machine by rubber rollers, so ink coverage in this area should be kept to a minimum to avoid jamming and roller marks. There are two other rubber rollers which feed the paper and can cause small compression marks in large areas of colour. There is also a plastic 'pick-up needle' inside the machine which helps to feed sheets through, but this can drag through heavy areas of ink and cause a line to appear. Roller and pick up marks should be expected when printing multiple colours or double sided prints, although we do try to minimise this where possible and may suggest altering artwork for a better result. However, roller marks on paper can be easily rubbed out with an eraser!
Ink transfer & smudging
Prints are stacked to feed into the machine for additional colours, as well as being stacked when fed out of the machine, therefore ink can transfer to backs of prints. We do offer a blotting paper service (at additional cost) if you wish to minimise this, although it won't eliminate it completely. As ink is soy-based and similar to newspaper printing it never completely dries, so prints should be handled carefully to avoid fingerprints and smudging. Reducing the opacity of your layers will help to avoid transfer marks and smudging, as well as choosing a suitable paper for your project - we can advise you on this.