Risograph is essentially a duplicator/copier with a stencil printing process, similar to screen printing — designed as a middle ground between digital printing and offset printing.
Released in Japan in the 1980s and often used in offices beforehand, they are designed with speed, efficency and eco friendly processes in mind. Riso inks are semi-transparent, so ink can be printed on top of each other for a mixed colour effect. They are very good at showing paper texture too.
Riso is now a popular printing option for illustrators, graphic designers, zine makers, and other creatives due to its unique imperfections, tactile finish and colours.
As the main cost is at the initial setup and master making, it’s also a quick, cost-effcient way to print a higher quantity of copies. If you need to make more than 50 but fewer than 10,000 prints, it’s usually cheaper per copy with Riso!
How does Risograph work?
A risograph machines works by creating a rice paper ‘master’ (similar to stencil in screen printing where ink is forced through), and wrapped around the print drum. As the drum rotates it leaves the printed impression onto the fed sheets of paper.
Risograph printers are able to print one/ two colours per pass at once through the machine.
Risograph uses a soy-based ink. When printed, the ink adheres onto the porous surfaces of papers and never really 100% gets dry. Therefore, each layer of colour and each print needs a few days of time to proceed to further printing/ finishing.
The ink colours are spot colours unique to Risograph. They are often represented with the nearest Pantone colour or HEX code, but it’s important to note that digital previews often has a slight difference with the actual printed colour.