Risograph Printing

Risograph printing sits between photocopying and screen printing. Its process works on the same principles of layering images as you would do in screen printing. The reason why I wanted to try the Risograph process, was to give me an understanding of the process which as it is ideal for multi run prints it could be useful for printing my own books and the printed result is more urban than if coming straight off a colour printer which uses toner.

The first step in the process is that you make layers of your prints in photoshop. Each of these layers forms a master for each drum colour. Once the master is etched onto the drum You can then start to print each layer. There are different colour drums for each layer of colour. It’s best to start with the black drum as the black ink dries the quickest and each layer takes quite a while to dry. The ink does tend to smudge even with the finished product. Once you have run some test prints you are able to quickly run off copies, hence the risographs popularity for situations where many prints are required; posters, zines etc.

The daffodil was printed on yellow paper so that made the printing process slightly easier. However the opacity of the black needed to be manipulated on the machine to get the correct image. I do like the illustrative effect of the flower and it makes it less photographic and pretty, thus challenging our image of the picturesque.

On the trespass poster I wanted to use three colours so the process would need three drums of different colours. I had created an illustration from one of my photographs in Adobe Illustrator, then created the layers in photoshop. The inks are expensive and at the time there were only four available colours that I could use, these were not the ones that I would have chosen as I wanted a yellow background and brown tree.   As the text was red I created a white mask for the red text to sit on, otherwise the blue would start to bleed through and change the colour. This required quite a bit of test prints to get the red to correctly sit on top of the white. 

Tree with mask for text

Final outcome

On the final copy there were some streaks down the outside edges which I could not erase. I will need to revisit the process to try to master the skill of risograph printing, but in essence I feel it gives a similar outcome to screen printing with the benefit of being able to create multiples. I also created a simple printed copy and as a result I could see how the more ‘rough and ready’ risograph print lends itself to posters and propaganda material.

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