How to Print the Perfect Risograph

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We can’t seem to decide how we’re pronouncing “risograph.” Does the “riso” part rhyme with chorizo? Or is it more like the beginning of rise-o and shine-o?

In any case, everyone here does agree wholeheartedly that we’re in love with risograph prints. We’ve about covered our office in these neon screenprint-like gems. So, today we’re sharing pics of the insides of our new robo-riso-maker (we love its inky guts) and our tips on what photos make the very best risograph prints.

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Meet the Maker

Risograph Machines were invented in the 1980’s in Japan. They were initially meant to be an alternative to Xeroxes for large batch duplicating, but their high contrast, brightly colored inks have gained them a cult following with graphic and photo artists.

How Does it Do That?

Each risograph starts as a photo file from a Parabo Press user’s phone. Just a few taps of the app and our riso making machine knows it’s time to get to work.

The machine’s computer heats up tiny spots on a thermal plate that burns a negative image of your photo into a thin plastic sheet called the master. The master is then wrapped around a drum of soy-based ink. The drum rolls over paper, squishing ink through the tiny holes in the master to make a pretty print!

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What Photos Make the Best Risos?

Like any monochrome printing process risos look best when the photo you are printing is high contrast. That means the dark spots are really dark and the bright spots are really bright. That is because monochrome printers only distinguish light/dark and not color. Not every amazing color photo will make a great monochrome print.

The simplest way to visualize it in your head is to think of a pretty red rose on a green background. Pretty pretty in color, but if you turned that image black and white, it would just look like medium grey on medium grey … not so stunning.

To tell if your photo will make a good riso as-is, or if it needs a little help in the contrast department, simply turn it black and white in your favorite photo editing app. Raise the contrast till you see true black and true white. If you edit your photo or use a filter to turn it B/W and like the look, be sure you save your new version, before ordering a print.

Or, you can always open the Parabo App on your phone and choose a photo from your camera roll to preview as a risograph. Easy peasey.

If only pronouncing the name of your new favorite print process were so simple.

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EXTRA, EXTRA

Our favorite ways to hang risographs are with these cute skeleton clips or with our magnetic wooden rails. And yup, you can get both of those through the Parabo App.

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