Riso and Why We Use it


Risograph (or Riso for short) is an eco-friendly method of printing efficiently and reliably. Its name comes from the Japanese word for ‘Ideal’, pronounced ‘Ri-sō’ - the founder, Noboru Hayama, who established Riso-Sha shortly after the Second World War in 1946, chose this name as a reminder for people to “not lose their ideals because then there would be no future for Japan as a nation”. Riso’s humble beginnings were in the mimeograph printing industry, and through many years of development we now have the Risograph machine that we are now so familiar with. It works differently from other machines, and has characteristics which are more similar to a stencil duplicator, where the original image is scanned through the machine to create a master sheet, which wraps around an ink drum. The master sheet has the image stencilled on, and paper is then fed into the machine to pass through the sheet and ink to create a print.

All our printing, finishing and binding is done in-house. We have two Riso RP-3700 machines, which can print up to A3, with a selection of over 15 different colours to choose from.


With its use of soy ink Riso printing is without question better for our environment, as it is low in chemical compounds normally found in petroleum based ink that cause air pollution, therefore reducing waste both in relation to recycling ink as well as to paper. Besides the fact that it makes the world a better place, we genuinely believe that Riso ink offers richer and more vibrant colours, giving each print more personality than other techniques may be able to offer. Riso also allows for a wide spectrum of colour combinations; Riso uses halftones (the use of dots) as its reprographic technique, and as the ink is translucent, the prospect of creating exciting new colours through overlaying one colour on top of another on uncoated paper is the resulting effect. 

As we mentioned earlier, although essentially a machine which consists of a digital set-up, the printing mechanics of Riso are more akin to other stencil-printing methods, which result in more ‘hand-made’ imperfect finishes - from slight mis-registrations of each individual colour to random marks that may not have been part of one’s original intentions at the onset of creating their piece of artwork. This is very much in our shared philosophy as makers to embrace Riso’s imperfections not as flaws but as an act against conforming to the widely digitalised world of art and design. It is both unintentional and genius, which is what makes Riso so attractive. 


  • Set the output resolution of your file to 300DPI, and select CMYK as the Document Colour Mode. 

  • Always bear in mind that Riso does not print full bleed. Leave a clear border of around on each edge for full bleed A3 files by leaving a margin of 7mm between the image and crop marks.

  • The artwork should be set-up in greyscale (adjusting the values of K only in CMYK - the remaining CMY values should remain at 0), and saved as PDF files. Each layer of colour is a separate file. 

  • The higher the value of K, the more concentrated the dots will be, making the halftones less apparent. For files prepared on .ai do not adjust the opacity level, and only have consideration for the value of K. 

  • For any text, make sure the minimum font size is 6pt. If you would like your text to be crisp and clear, you should set them as Registration Black (C:100, M:100, Y:100, K:100).

  • If your artwork requires some heavy inking, do not go above K:90. If you wish to fill the majority of the printable area with full colour, we recommend that the value of K does not exceed 70. 

  • The maximum printable area for any full bleed A3 artwork should be 406 x 283mm. 

  • If your artwork has two or more colours, you should expect there to be some mis-registration to take place, we will do manual adjustments on the machine to prevent mis-registration as much as possible. There will also be some unwanted marking when printing multiple colours caused when the paper is fed through the machine, but most of these marks can be removed with the simple use of a rubber. 

Drop us an email at riso@beforebreakfast.london for a quote if you need some riso printing done! 

The colours we have available can be found in the charts below. Our colour charts can also be purchased online here.