An affordable print method with the speed of a photocopier and the aesthetic of a screen print.
The risograph is a high-speed printer, which uses a stencil of your image wrapped around a single-colour drum of ink to create beautiful prints, one colour at a time. Paper is fed through the machine flat from one side, and the ink drum rotates as the paper passes, to transfer your image onto the paper and pass it out the other side of the printer. Multi-coloured prints are made by swapping ink drums out of the Riso and printing on the same page again and again. At Damn Fine Print, we can take your files and turn them into your own prints, flyers, posters, zines, and more. We also host an introduction to risograph course once a month. Check out the course here.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Risograph images are printed one colour at a time. Files are sent to print from a PDF on a computer. The risograph takes your image and makes a stencil of it, which then wraps around an ink drum, which is inside the machine. The colour is determined by which colour ink drum is in the RISO, so your files are always in black and white.
To print, paper is fed straight through the machine from one side to the other. Once the paper is fed in, the ink drum rotates, transferring your image onto the paper, and pushing it out the other side.
The image from your file, but printed in fluorescent pink. The colour of your image is determined by which ink drum is in the machine when you make your stencil.
To make multi-coloured prints, this process is repeated, having swapped out the ink drum for another colour, and printing over the first layer in a new colour.
Risograph inks are soy-based and produce a unique finish unlike regular digital printing inks. Ink dries by absorbing into the paper which can take time, and lead to slight smudges and imperfections if they are being handled a lot.
We currently have 8 colours for our risograph:
Black (Black U)
Fluorescent Pink (806 U)
Aqua Blue (637 U)
Medium Blue (386 U)
Bright Red (185 U)
Yellow (Yellow U)
Green (354 U)
Metallic Gold (872 U)*
*Metallic Gold is a specialist ink, so additional costs apply to use this in your prints.
All risograph colours are unique to RISO and do not match any other colour system. Pantone colour references above are approximations which are the closest equivalents.
The largest paper the RISO can print on is A3 (297X420mm).
The risograph can not print edge to edge, so there will always be a white border on A3 prints. We recommend you create your own 10mm border on your prints when creating your files.
Note: We can trim A3 prints down to remove the white border around the edge. When we do this, the largest size we can trim prints to is 287X410mm. For any smaller sized prints, edge-to-edge printing is possible.
COLOUR: FROM PDF TO PRINT
The RISO reads your images in greyscale, and the colour of your printed image is determined by what ink drum is inside. We can print the same file in different colours by simply swapping out the drums and making a new stencil.
Note: Large areas of very dark colour (75%+) are likely to cause marks, smudges or paper jams. To avoid this, make large areas of flat colour no denser than 75%.
Incorrect set-up – do not send files in colour.
Correct set-up – Files are always in shades of black and grey
PRINTING WITH MULTIPLE LAYERS
Though we are limited to the colours in our drums, new colours can be achieved by printing one colour on top of another. Risograph inks are translucent and allow for interesting colour results when printed multiple layers on top of each other. Darker colours do not interact in overlays as well as lighter ones.
Note: Every time you add a colour to your design, the page must pass through the RISO again. This increases risks of smudging, as heavy layers of ink on top of each other do not dry as easily. Roller marks can also become an issue, caused by the rubber rollers on the RISO which feed the paper through the machine..
FULL COLOUR IMAGES
Ordinary full colour printing uses a CMYK process which involves four inks: Cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Risograph inks aren’t available in magenta or cyan, so to replicate this process we substitute aqua ink for cyan, and fluorescent pink ink for magenta. We charge a fee of €15 per A3 image for preparing files in this way.
As colours are printed one at a time, it is very likely that layers will not line up perfectly. This is something that needs to be remembered when creating your artwork – do not set the same text in two colours, fill in coloured backgrounds behind line work or text, add trapping where necessary, and avoid intricate details that require registration to be 100% accurate.
LARGE AREAS OF FLAT COLOUR
Risograph inks are wet when they are printed, which means that large areas of heavy colour coverage (ink darker than 75%) can increase the risk of smudging when handling prints, paper jams caused by the page sticking to the ink drum, roller marks when printing over heavy colour, and marks on the back of each print, as pages stack up after they are printed. Large areas of heavy coverage also have a tendency to not print entirely evenly.
To avoid these issues we advise that large areas of flat colour be no darker than 75%.
Please note paper stocks are subject to availability
Flattened Files - PDF, No layers, No transparency, No InDesign Effects
Photoshop Flattening: When saving your PDF tick the “As a Copy” box.
Illustrator Flattening: When saving your file untick “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” box.
300dpi resolution (Lower resolution will leave your images pixelated)
A separate greyscale file for each layer, labelled by colour.
Example: “John_Smith_Yellow.pdf” “John_Smith_Black.pdf”
A separate colour JPEG of your artwork, showing us how your finished piece should look.
Do not set text below 6pt, and do not set knockout text* below 8pt.
*White text printed on a coloured background
Do not set stroke weights less than 0.5pt.
When using gradients, do not go from 100-0% ink density, go from 90-10%.
Increasing contrast on photographs will help them print more clearly.
Make large areas of flat colour no darker than 75%.