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Risograph Printing

Use this guide to find resources for the process of printing on a Risograph. 


Four Core Reminders

1. Plan your layers, color selections, and print order. Whether you're printing from a digital file or scanning a physical drawing on the scanner bed, make sure to separate each color into separate pages or layers.
All files are sent to the printer in grayscale, and the ink color is added as the paper passes through the ink drum during the printing process. Prepare your artwork or layers in grayscale and set the resolution to 300 dpi. 
3. Prepare files before your appointment and follow the file set-up information in the second tab. If you're printing a digital file, please save your file on your device or upload it to your Google Drive. If you're scanning artwork, bring your files to your appointment.

4. Find tutorials, templates, and more resources in this printing guide. 

Printing for both methods (physical and digital art)

  • Artwork
    • The Risograph reads value, not color. When creating artwork remember that the machine with translate the value for color based on a saturation or opacity scale. In other words, look at value when designing for each color. Look at the ink list to get a better understanding of value and saturation.
  • Max Print Area
    You cannot print full-bleed designs on the Risograph. I recommend using the measurements below for your print area and adding 1/4” guides, registration marks, and crop marks around your artwork.
    • Letter (8.5" x 11"): Printable Area 7.5″ x 10"
    • Tabloid Size (11" x 17"): Printable Area 10" x 16"
    • A3 (11.7" x 16.5"): Printable Area 10.4" x 16"
  • Font Type Size
    The type size should not be below 7pt. If you plan to use two colors when printing the same text, consider misregistration and the intention of two colors (ex: will the text be readable at 7pt in two colors?). 
  • Registration & Trim
    Add registration marks to match up overlays. Add trim marks to trim your print to your desired size. 

Additional Digital Printing Prep
The criteria above and below should be included in your file preparation for printing digital files. 

  • Resolution
    The Risograph has a resolution of 600 dpi, but we recommend 300 dpi resolution for your files. This is because files that are larger resolution take longer to print, and you only ever need 300 dpi with the paper sizes we offer. 
  • Naming Convention
    Format Example:
    • Name_Riso colors in order of layer.pdf
    • Reed_LightLime-Red-Purple.pdf
  • Flattening Images (if using Adobe Acrobat)
    When preparing your digital file, you must flatten, merge, or rasterize layers before each color/layer as a PDF. Once you flatten your image, the effects that you applied in your file will become embedded as part of the artwork. This step will help you avoid effects in your images, such as jagged, blurry, or images with unintentional drop shadows.

Riso printing is a spot color printing method, meaning that it excels in using 1 to 4 inks, as opposed to trying to mix all of them to reproduce a wide range of colors (CMYK). Risograph ink is translucent, so its final appearance depends on the color of the paper it is printed on, the layering of each ink, the saturation of color (10%-100%), and how the overlay of colors can mix and create new colors. 

The swatches below are for visual reference, you must set your artwork to grayscale for printing on the RISO. Keep your layers visible OR export each ink color as a PDF

View the inks that we have available at the VRC below:

Download Ink Swatches for Photoshop or Illustrator

1. Download the VRC Riso Ink Swatches for Photoshop or Illustrator.

2. Open your artwork in Photoshop or Illustrator. Navigate to the menu option "Window" and select the "Swatches" option.

3. Navigate to the swatches menu in the right panel. Select the menu icon click "Open Swatch Library," and select "Other Library" at the bottom of the menu.

4. Upload the "VRC Riso Inks FY 23-24.ase." Navigate to your swatches panel and scroll to the bottom to find the "VRC Riso Ink" folder.
5. Now you have a reference for how the colors will print using the VRC inks available.

The Risograph prints best on uncoated paper between 20# to 80# (80gsm to 300 gsm). Riso ink prints best on uncoated paper (not glossy), because it adheres directly to the fibers of the paper. Check out the available paper options for your projects by viewing the document below.

A3 (11.7 x 16.5 in) 
Ideal for posters or large prints. 


8.5 x 11 inches

Ideal for fliers or medium-sized prints. The templates below are for layout 8.5" x 11" letter paper but can be printed on A3 (11.7" x 16.75"). 

A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in)
Ideal for postcards or fliers. Templates below are for layout A5 but are printed on A3. 

A5 Booklet or Zine (5.83 x 8.27 in)
The templates below are for layout A5 but are printed on A3. You can duplicate the document or artboards depending on how many pages you want in your zine. If you're printing double-sided, I recommend making a sample so you can visualize your pagination.

Book the Riso

To book an appointment, simply click on the buttons below. Please be aware that appointments may not be available due to priority booking for studio art courses or closures for breaks. For drop-in demos and workshops each semester, please refer to Reed's Calendar of Events!

Demo appointments (30 minutes) include a brief overview of how to use the Risograph, a printing demonstration, and time for your questions. Demos are required before printing appointments. 

Demo Appointment


Printing appointments (1 hour and 15 minutes) include time for printing your artwork. You need to bring your finalized files, laptop, tablet, or physical artwork to the appointment. If you plan to print more than 3 colors or a zine please book a separate appointment with Chloe to discuss. 

Printing Appointment