Risograph Printing: Take One

I've been exploring the world of Risograph printing for a personal project I've been working on recently. I'm planning on designing a birthday postcard to both explore a new medium and also to spread the design/birthday love with friends and family who wouldn't normally see my work up close and personal. (More on this project to come)

As I was looking into Riso printing for this personal project it occurred to me it would be a great medium for an internal design project at work as well. For San Francisco Design Week, Active Ingredients is hosting a design mixer — it's the first Design Week event to be held in Marin as far as we know and we're pretty excited about that. So, we're planning on printing a poster for our SF Design Week event using this new medium. Even though we're a web-focused agency, we value exploring other design mediums and this was the perfect opportunity.

Riso Printing (a quick background)

Risograph printing could be thought of as somewhere between photocopying and screenprinting. The Riso machine looks like a large office printer and uses a layering technique to produce multi-colored prints by printing only one color at a time.

Our poster design separated into its base colors for printing.

Our poster design separated into its base colors for printing.

The color options are much more limited than traditional printing or screenprinting — generally only a handful of colors are available for use. This presents a few issues and opportunities. Yes, you have fewer base colors to use, but you can also take advantage of transparency and layering to create some beautiful new colors.

I particularly love these example of the myriad colors you can get from We Are Constance.

Risograph printing is more quick and dirty than screenprinting. It's a faster and cheaper option, and offset layers are just a part of the process. It's best to assume that layers won't line up perfectly and plan to your design around that. I personally think that makes the design much more interesting and I'm excited to see how this project turns out.

Having never done Riso printing before, we'll see how this first project goes. The main issue I'm running into with design is that I know my color transparencies in Photoshop won't produce the same colors when printed and I'm having to take that into account.

Below is the final mockup of what I'm hoping our poster will look like. More to come once we (cross fingers) get this thing printed in time for the June 10th event.