2D Prototyping Studio

2D Prototyping Risograph Printing

Risograph printing is a unique printing process which produces vibrant, textured prints which look like no other process available. Below are some specific details about printing in our lab.

Available colors:

Red #FF665E
Yellow #FFE800
Kelly Green #67B346
Blue #0078BF
Violet #9D7AD2
Fluorescent Pink #FF48B0
Fluorescent Orange #FF7477
Teal #00838A
Black #000000

What is a risograph?

A risograph is a stencil duplicator- it prints one layer at a time with rice-based, semi translucent inks. It’s a cross between a xerox machine (due to the high speed and large output) and a screenprinter (due to the layered stencil process). It was designed to be a cheap way to print large quantities at a very little cost. It’s great for layering colors and creating bright, textured and unique prints. The risograph reads grayscale images, bitmaps them, and burns them into a master, which wraps around the color drum. The drum pushes ink through the master and onto the paper, resulting in your final image. Due to the nature of printing, it is best to print at least 10 copies of each print. The more you print, the more cost effective the medium becomes! 

Image Making

Risograph printing is a binary process, meaning the risograph reads tones, rather than color. This means that no matter what color is being printed, the image must be rendered in grayscale as it's sent to be printed and the ink determines the color. For example, to make a red gradient, your file would look like the first circle but would print like the second.

As another example, a 50% opacity black would print as a 50% opacity red, or 50% opacity blue, and so on. You can then overlap colors to create new colors and combinations, as shown here:

For a more thorough look at how to set up your file, check out the "In Depth Riso File Preparation" tab to the left.

Printing Imperfections

The risograph is an imperfect medium. A few issues you might run into include:

  • Registration: When printing, the paper pushed through the machine may shift slightly, causing a misalignment of two layers on top of one another. The act of matching up two layers to line up as intended is called registration. This slight offset is one of risograph printing’s many charms, and the aesthetic should be embraced when image making! If you want really tight registration, avoid very fine lines on multiple separations that are necessary to line up.

  • Smudging: Riso ink is rice based and does not include a drying agent, meaning the way it “dries” is by being absorbed into paper. If multiple layers are printed with no drying time, smudging is common. Try waiting at least a few hours between prints if this is a problem for your print.

  • Roller marks: Similarly to smudging, roller marks are marks left over by the rollers that pull paper through the machine. This means that there are areas of wet ink on your print, or that your print is too heavily inked. Avoid roller marks by allowing drying time, or by leaving about an inch thick strip blank on your paper.

  • Bleed: The risograph’s printable area is limited by the size of your paper. In order to allow paper to pass through, the risograph must leave a small border on your image. Please leave a small border, around 0.25”, around your image. A way to bypass this and create an image with bleed is by leaving a border and cutting your paper down afterwards. 


2DP Provides one color and weight of paper in two sizes. Currently we are stocking Cougar Bright White, 80# Text in 8.5x11" and 11x17" sizes. This paper is wonderful for book


Here are a few paper recommendations!

  • French Paper Co. https://www.frenchpaper.com/

  • MICA’s Postal and Print (cardstock)

  • Strathmore Drawing paper (available in paper pads at the MICA store)

For more paper recommendations or questions in general, feel free to come into the shop and talk with us!