Prepare a Drawing for Risograph Printing

From: Murals & Illustrations /

Preparing an Illustration in Procreate & Photoshop for Riso Printing

Below I try to explain a few things about preparing for Risograph printing:

  1. How a Risogragh prints from a file
  2. Preparing your files
  3. Procreate preparing
  4. Photoshop preparing

As I am learning how to set up files for Risograph printing I thought I would share the journey with you and how I got my drawings ready.

I will be focusing on explaining how to prepare your files from digital drawings using Procreate and Photoshop. If you are doing pencil/pen and paper drawings then some of this can be applied to what you are doing once you scan your files digitally.

There are a few things to be aware of to get your head around how the riso printer works and how you need to prepare your artwork to be printed.

Hopefully, I can help explain the process as I work my way through it.

First, let’s do a brief explanation of how Risograph printers work.

Quick Explanation of How a Risograph Printer Prints

If you are familiar with screen printing and that each individual colour is printed by using a silkscreen then the same concept is similar to a riso printer.

A Risograph printer only prints individual colours separately, for example, a two-colour riso print will use two separate “screens”. One for the yellow “screen” and then the blue “screen”.

From those two colour screens by overlapping the two colours you can create a third colour, being yellow + blue = green. There is also the ability to set the opacity to give a range of tones as well.

riso opacity settings
Risograph printer opacity & overlapping creates a range of tones & colours

Each colour needs to have its own file to be printed. So when drawing you need to be able to draw all the blue on its own layer and yellow on another layer in Procreate or Photoshop. But you have to convert both files as greyscale for the Risograph to print colours.

I will show how I do this in Procreate and also in Photoshop.

Brain Tweaking Bit – Converting Colours to Grey Scale

BUT the bit that tweaked my head a little was each of those colour layers needs to be converted to greyscale before exporting.

Now, this is the tricky bit, well kind of. Riso printers to print a solid colour, eg blue or solid yellow then on the greyscale exported version needs to be a solid black to print a solid colour. I will explain this a bit more below and show you what I mean

You then export each of those layers as its own file, eg blue.pdf and yellow.pdf

Converted colours to greyscale need to be changed to black if wanting to print solid colour

Below is a graphic trying to explain converting your file into each separate greyscale file (individual colours) using Procreate in preparation for the risograph printer. The bottom row shows if using opacity on colour and how it looks when converted to a greyscale file.

file prepare riso printing
1 Using Procreate, each colour has its own layer. 2 Prepare each layer by removing all SATURATION. 3 Then remove all BRIGHTNESS and export each layer as a PDF file. 4 Riso printer output based on PDF file.

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