What is risograph printing Riso Art ATX Fine Arts | allsaxmusic

Particularly among artists, designers and independent publishers, Risograph printing has recently gained popularity as a distinctive and versatile printing technology.

Risograph printing offers greater scope for experimentation and flexibility of expression than conventional printing techniques such as offset and digital printing, which rely on preset templates and colours.

So what is Risograph printing and how is it different from other printing processes? The history, procedure and benefits of Risograph printing are discussed in this article along with some examples of how it is now being used in the fields of art and design.

What is risograph printing?

To create high-quality, textured prints, risograph printing combines components of screen printing with photocopies. Risograph machines use a digital image file to create a stencil on a master sheet, which is then fed through the machine to make impressions by forcing ink through the stencil onto paper.

The prints produced in this way have a distinctive, handmade aesthetic that is highly sought after in the art and design industry.

Risograph printing is known for its rich, saturated colors and its ability to create precise details and textures that are difficult to achieve with other printing techniques. The use of soy-based ink and low energy consumption make this a sustainable choice.

The history of risograph art

The history of risograph printing spans decades and both technological developments and creative movements have influenced its development.

Riso Kagaku Corporation released the GR3770 in 1986, the first Risograph printer. Compared to more conventional printing technologies such as offset printing, which required huge copies to be cost effective, riso printing offers a more attractive and practical option.

The Risograph printer used a digital file to create a template on a master sheet, which was then run through the machine to make prints. Unlike conventional photocopiers, the Risograph printer used soy-based ink and produced prints with a distinct, handcrafted look.

Initially used primarily to produce low-cost prints for schools and government agencies, the Risograph printer quickly gained favor with artists and designers who were attracted to its ability to produce colorful, textured images.

Artists and writers used the Risograph to self-publish zines, artists’ books, and other small-scale publications, making it a staple of Japan’s independent publishing movement. Risograph printing became popular outside Japan in the 1990s, especially in Europe and the United States.

Risograph printing was used by DIY enthusiasts and punk artists to create flyers, posters and record covers in the United States. Artists seeking a cost-effective technique to generate high-quality prints were drawn to the Risograph for its distinctive design, which blended the look of screen printing with the efficiency of photocopying.

Newer models of the Risograph printer have advanced technology and a wider range of color selections than ever before. Risograph printing is currently widely used in the art and design industry, with artists and designers creating everything from zines and artist books to limited edition prints and posters.

Artists who want their prints to stand out from the crowd often choose this method for its signature style, low cost and low environmental impact.

How does a riso printer work?

Screen printing and photocopying are combined in a Risograph printer, also known as a Risograph duplicator. Ink is transferred to paper using a template created on a master sheet.

Creating a digital image file using tools such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator is the first stage in the Risograph printing process. The image file is then printed onto a transparent sheet called a « mastersheet » using a special inkjet printer that uses soy-based ink.

The drum of the Risograph printer is then used to load the master sheet. High speed rotation of the drum and heat and pressure are used to transfer the image from the master sheet to the drum. The drum rotates once more and transfers the ink from the stencil onto a blank sheet of paper.

Each color in the design requires a separate master sheet and template, which are placed on the machine one at a time. This procedure is performed for each individual color until the print is complete.

Risograph printing’s ability to produce vibrant, saturated colors with soy-based inks is one of its advantages. The ink is transferred to the paper through microscopic holes in the stencil, creating a distinctive, textured appearance widely appreciated in the art and design communities.

The effectiveness and environmental friendliness of printing risographs is well known. The soy-based ink is biodegradable and non-toxic, and the process uses little energy. Because the master sheets can be used several times, this method of printing is very beneficial for print runs of any size.

Basically, a Risograph printer uses a revolving drum to transfer the ink from a template created on a master sheet with soy-based ink to paper. The method is known for its effectiveness and low environmental impact, producing colorful, textured prints.

The benefits of using a risograph printer

Risograph printers are becoming increasingly popular with artists, designers and DIY publishers due to their many benefits.

Cost efficient

Risograph printing is an economical choice for print runs of several hundred to several thousand copies.

The procedure uses soy-based ink and requires less energy, making it a more cost-effective option than conventional printing processes such as offset printing.

Vibrant colors

The Risograph printer uses soy-based ink to produce rich, saturated colors that cannot be reproduced with any other printing method. Layering and color mixing are made possible by the transparency of the ink.

Unique aesthetic

The Risograph printer produces prints with a distinctive, handmade quality that is highly sought after by the art and design industry. Combining components of screen printing and photocopying creates a textured, almost tactile appearance on the final print.


The Risograph printer is a fast and effective way to make many copies of a design. It’s perfect for large print jobs, as each print takes just a few seconds.

Environmentally friendly

The procedure is environmentally friendly as it uses ink made from soybeans, which decomposes quickly and contains no hazardous chemicals.

The mastersheets can be used multiple times, reducing waste and making it a more environmentally friendly printing alternative.


The Risograph printer can be used for a wide variety of printing projects, including zines, artist books, posters, flyers and more. In addition, it can print on different sizes and types of paper, giving it a flexible choice for a wide range of jobs.

In short, the Risograph printer has gained widespread acclaim among creative professionals for its many benefits. It’s a great way to get prints that look like they’re handmade, but aren’t too expensive.

Due to its adaptability and ability to generate high-quality prints, it has become an indispensable tool for artists and designers.

The importance of riso art

Because of its distinctive appearance and low cost, risograph art has become popular with artists and designers. Risograph art is important because it makes printing more accessible and gives new artists a place to show off their work.

Risograph printing is so cheap that it is now available to artists and designers who might otherwise not be able to afford to print their own work using conventional methods.

This has given up-and-coming artists the opportunity to develop and distribute their work on a larger scale. In conclusion, Risograph art is important for its accessibility, signature aesthetic, durability, adaptability, and ability to foster community.

The printing technique has become more accessible and has given new artists a platform to present their work. Its growing appeal among creative professionals is testament to its value as a platform for original thought and expression.


Risograph printing is a flexible and economical printing method that has become popular with artists, designers and independent publishers.

The process’s unique style and long-term viability have made it a useful tool for artists who want to create colorful, textured prints that look as if they were handcrafted. Due to its low cost and ease of use, it has enabled many new artists to have their work seen by a wider audience.

It is clear that Risograph art will continue to be a vital platform for artistic expression and experimentation as its popularity rises.

By Liam