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Get Riso Ready

Welcome to the world of Risograph printing! Whether you’re a total newbie or a Riso-pro, we’ve put together this nifty guide on how to get your files Riso ready. Checkout how to name your files as well as some super top tips for the perfect print below, so you can get your stunning designs ready to order. 


Ordering check list

There’s just a few things we need from you to help get your order flying through the Riso.

  1. A grayscale file for each colour you would like us to print (we call these separations)
  2. A full colour version of how you would like the final print to look

And that’s it. Easy as pie!

Separations: Let’s break it down

Your artwork will need to be broken down and supplied in ‘colour separations’. Don’t worry, this isn’t as scary as it sounds!

Each colour separation will be a grayscale file which tells us where on the page you want a certain colour. So let’s take the picture above as an example. On the right you can see the full colour artwork. On the left are the two colour separations which will be used to print the artwork. Each colour separation will be turned into a stencil on a drum for lovely colourful ink to be squeezed through.

Greyscale files should be supplied along with a full colour version of your artwork. This way we can check to see if the supplied files need any adjusting.


Digital Mockups

Testing colours is easy with Adobe software like Photoshop. Switch on the “multiply” effect in the blending mode of a layer. This will give you an idea of how the inks will interact when overlaid. Please refer to our list of colours for the closest on screen match for each ink.

File Setup

Risographs cannot print all the way to the edge of the paper so please leave an 8mm border around any artwork. It also helps to keep any text and images away from the edge in an area we like to call the safe zone. This makes sure anything important doesn’t get lost!

We want to make sure all your text is lovely and legible so here are a few tips on getting the best results.

For the best text we recommend setting the colour on your file to ‘registration black’ and keeping it in vector form. The best programmes to do this in are adobe indesign and illustrator. Where possible avoid using photoshop for text once rasterized (turned from text into an object), as the print becomes fuzzy and text can become dotty.


In this case size really does matter!

We recommend 7pt as the smallest text size on your design. Any smaller than this and the letters will become fuzzy and hard to read.


Read between the lines

The smallest line the Riso can accurately replicate is 0.25pt. Any smaller than this and the line will look broken and uneven.

Labeling your files

It really helps us make sure we get your print spot on if all the files are named using our system. Just follow this easy pattern:




So if we’re printing Percy’s cat drawing for him, you would have the following files:

For double sided artworks, simply add A or B onto the end to indicate which files are for each side. The colour proof can be a two page document with both sides of the print in it.



Our top tips and tricks


Heavy Ink Coverage:

When using heavy ink coverage, opt for a thicker paper. This will help the ink be absorbed better and stop the page curling.

We find it best to print really large areas of flat colour at 85% opacity as it gives a smoother more even finish. But we can help advise you on where you might need to do this.


The Riso will automatically change any area on your file that isn’t 100% opacity to halftone, so there’s no need to add this in unless you’re looking for a chunkier dot.

Cleaning files:

Sometimes when an artwork has been scanned in or has textures applied, the riso can pick up on marks which might not be as obvious on screen. So if you’ve scanned your artwork, we suggest ‘cleaning’ it and getting rid of any marks you don’t want on your print. As much as we can advise you on how to do this, it is your responsibility to spot and sort these imperfections as it is a matter of personal preference in your print finish.

Flattened files:

It’s important to make sure you flatten your files before sending them to us as the riso can pick up on hidden items and accidentally print them.


The Riso doesn’t print 0%-10% opacity areas well as the dots are just too small. So we suggest when making gradients that opacity goes from 90%-10%

If you look at the gradients, you can see that the top line doesn’t quite reach the all the way to the left. It stops just after 10%


Popping CMYK:

If you’re wanting a print full of lots of colours, we recommend trying out our funky version of CMYK. Instead of using cyan, magenta, yellow and key, we use similar riso colours of aqua, magenta, sunflower yellow and black. It’s great for printing colourful photographs and images.


On the Riso we have to line up the different coloured sections by hand. To make sure you don’t get any white marks where the different layers haven’t lined up exactly, try using trapping. This is where you make coloured sections overlap by a few millimeters.

Ready to get started?

We can’t wait to see what amazing artwork you create so let’s get printing!