What You Need For A Riso Print

On this page I will be telling you how to go about processing your illustration, design or artwork ready for printing as a Risograph. I will explain how to prepare your work for Riso Printing.

prepare your artwork for riso printing


For Freelancers


Limited Runs

Glorious Colour!



The Basics

Your artwork should be set up as separate greyscale PDF files, one for each colour layer, similar to the way artwork is prepared for screen printing. Each one of these PDF files with is a separate colour. Each of these separate colours requires a different Master (or, also known as a Stencil). I make the Masters from the PDF you supply to in turn print the colour you want to print – currently, our colours are Black, Blue, Yellow & Fluro Pink. So, you will be making a PDF for the colours Black, Blue, Yellow & Fluro Pink.

Print Area

The Risograph cannot print full bleed. There is a 5mm border on A3 prints.

A3 paper size = 297 x 420mm
A3 printable area = 287 x 410mm

Please be aware that non-printable area on a print changes depending on the size of your artwork as we have to fit them onto an A3 sheet for printing. Here are a few examples with the most common sizes: A3, A4, A5, A6

Block colour flat print

It is not possible to cover the full printable area with 100% ink density as it causes paper jams. Large areas of a block colour will not print out evenly, it will also cause print marks.


Basic Images

Your images should be in JPEG greyscale. There is no need to halftone your artwork files, the Riso will create a halftone automatically.

Duotone images

Duotone images are created by superimposing one colour over another; this is an effective and economical way of risograph printing. This is a Duotone image printed using fluro orange and green.



Fluorescent Orange

CMYK images

This is a Riso CMYK print using blue, red, yellow and black inks.

CMYK Complete

Fluoro Pink

Light Blue



Type (Words ‘n That)

For text under 12pt it is best practice to set it in registration black to get the most solid print possible. Use normal black (100% K) for type 14pt or above to avoid an inky mess. Do not set type in photoshop (raster) as that will cause pixelation.

Knockout text

Do not set type below 6pt. When using whiteout text, the printer isn’t reading it as text, but rather the pixels around the text, so be careful with percentages of colour.

Multiple Layers

When printing multiple layers, avoid heavy ink coverage at the paper feeding edge as the Riso feeds in paper with a set of rubber rollers. Heavy inking and more than two colours will leave track marks on your print. Not nice.


Registration is fairly accurate with two colour artworks as the Riso prints two colours at the same time. Printing more than two colours will require more than one pass, and is best to assume that mis-registration will occur.


Please feel free to email us at [email protected] to request colour and paper samples. We will be sure to get them in the post to you as soon as possible.

Unlike litho printing, screen printing and letterpress, Risograph doesn’t have a Pantone system for the soya-based inks we use. However, we have done our best to match our current colours. Beware that colours do vary according to paper stock.

Sending Files To Us

Please send us your artwork in PDF format or JPEG

No Photoshop (raster) type, make sure it is from InDesign / Illustrator or outlined (vector).

Images in PDF must be JPEG, greyscale and 300dpi

Absolutely no effects in InDesign

No transparency

Avoid heavy inking and large areas of block colour

Block colour should be no more than 75% black

Please include a full-colour JPEG as a reference

“Pay Attention At The Back!”

The Risograph is not perfect like an inkjet or laser printer.

The prints will probably look different from what you see on your computer screen.

The prints will differ very slightly from one another.


Registration will not be perfect when printing more than two layers, please beware of this when designing your artwork. Include trapping when needed.


There will be slight print marks, especially when printing more than two layers or double-sided. But these can be minimised by following our artwork guide and can easily be rubbed off with a rubber.

Roller marks

Riso feeds in paper using a set of rubber rollers. If there is a lot of ink on the page, it will be transferred onto the rollers leaving unwanted track marks.


Double sided

Light marks will appear when printing double-sided, especially if one side is heavily inked, this is caused by the pressure roller. We will always print the side with the lighter coverage first.

Needle marks

A ‘pick off needle’ is used within the riso to peel off the print from the print drum when printing. Heavy ink will cause the needle to drag across the print leaving a scratch line.

Ink transfer

Prints are stacked on top of each other when they come out of the Riso so heavy ink will cause transfer between the prints.

Riso ink rubs off easily so is best to avoid having large areas of solid colours for flyers and book covers. The brighter the colour, the easier it rubs off.

Get In Touch

Let's Work Together!


Creao Studio, 12b Regent Street
Harrogate HG1 4BE


07714 688412

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