In this blog post I will tell you all about another manual printing technique that I decided to try out personally - riso printing.

We talked about screen printing a while ago. The truth is, I liked that experience so much that I decided to try another manual printing technique. This time around, riso printing.

What is Riso printing

Riso printing started in 1986 in Japan with Riso Kagaku Corporation. Nowadays mainly studios and designers use it but back in the days, there were a lot of institutions using these machines. They provided a cheap and easy way to print significant amounts of documents.

The riso printing technique consists of using a machine that resembles an ordinary printer & scanner, but in reality is a mix between digital, and manual printing.

The main difference is that each riso has one or two drums – instead of ink tonners- which means that it only prints one or two colors each time. To print more than that, you have to change the drums manually each time and create a new master.

The master is a sheet of paper, inside the machine, that resembles a stencil. Each time there’s a new composition, new definitions or a different color, there has to be a new master.

Check the video below to see all the process.

Why is an excellent alternative to traditional printing

The beauty of the Riso machine is that it prints by layers and produces unique results. This makes you think more about composition and allows more experimentation until the final result.

Each time you chose to change the definitions on the computer or on the riso, you will get different looks. This makes the process distinct (if you like to control absolutely everything this may not be your thing).

Also, riso is a very ecological alternative printing solution (we should all aim for being more eco-friendly). The master is a compound of a banana leaf, and the inks are also soy compounds. The only thing against it is that it requires a lot of testing so you may spend some paper trying to test the final project till it gets right.

My personal experience with riso printing

I was very curious about Riso printing because I’ve always been inclined to try different things, especially when it comes to manual techniques.

I went to Fica – Oficina Criativa and once more Rita explained all the process, shared some examples and allowed us to experiment with different colors and techniques.

To be fair, I thought the process would be easier, but once you feel more comfortable with the machine and know exactly how it works, the experience process is very addictive, and you become immersed into trying new colors, producing new textures and doing beautiful compositions.

So, if you want to try for yourself, I recommend that you search for local studios and see if they do workshops or are willing to show you around.

As an alternative, if you want to know more about printing techniques but don’t want to get your hands dirty (literally), I recommend issue 38 of Brand magazine. In there you will read about riso, screen printing, and some other techniques as well as see the different result.

Try some of them and share your experience in the comments. 👇


Also published on Medium.