What's a risograph?

A “riso” is like a screen printer mixed with a photocopier. A master image is created for each color and the paper is fed through the printer multiple times at a very high rate.

The result is a textured and layered print. The spot colors overlay on top of each other to create an interesting profile  that has a hand-made-like quality.

How does it work?


A grayscale PDF is sent from the PC to the printer


The paper moves through the printer as the ink drum spins to coat each sheet


Take each page and repeat steps one through three for each color


A master is created from the PDF by burning holes through the master paper

File set up & inks

To prepare artwork for printing, first you need to save each color layer as a separate grayscale file (PDF). Art and text should be outlined when exporting with solid shapes, type and images set to Registration Black (#000000) from 5% to 100% opacity.

While it can print on paper up to 11x17” the Riso does not print full bleed - the maximum print area is 10.5x16.25." So if your project is full-bleed, include at least an 1/8 inch bleed area.

Artwork should be sent to us in Illustrator, PSD, Indesign, PDF or JPEG (300-600 dpi). Images embedded in PDFs must be JPEG (grayscale and at least 300dpi) with no effects. Fonts cannot be smaller than 5pt and lines must be 1pt minimum.

The Riso uses specific inks made from plant-based soy oil, water and pigment that come in a variety of colors. These inks do not have a drying agent in them, so they will never be fully dry. Think of it similar to newsprint ink, where if you rub hard enough some of the ink may come off.

Riso "imperfections"

Like everything else, the riso is not perfect and there are some common issues we face with each job. We do our best to mitigate these problems, but you may experience minor examples of the following.


The inks are similar to newspaper inks, which makes smudging a possibility. It’s best to try not to use too many heavy blocks of color on top of each other to avoid this.

Tire marks

The roller that sends each page through the printer can get ink on it which can leave tracks in the center of the artwork. It’s a constant battle to keep it clean, but life’s a dirty game.

Varied registration

Since the printer moves the paper through it quickly, sometimes the registration will not align perfectly. What a metaphor for life. Add a little trapping to mitigate this.

Want to print with us?

Learn More