Setting up Risograph Artwork
Although my final illustration was prepared as a layered Photoshop document that would print perfectly well digitally, I quickly learned that it could not be used as it was for risograph printing. Much like when preparing an image to be screen printed, files need to be recreated as individual greyscale layers for each colour. The colour’s image is then transferred onto a stencil and wrapped onto a drum of ink. The stencil acts as a screen through which the ink passes through onto the page.
Riso inks are semi-opaque and can be layered to create additional colours to great effect. I had decided to create a two colour print. The studio I decided to print with, Risotto, had 16 colours available and I decided to use green and black this time. I was concerned that the black would dominate the overall palette and decided I should tone it down. My illustration was predominantly green but I wanted to use the black to create darker tones to help increase contrast.
Usually, when I create digital illustrations in Photoshop I draw into multiple masks and layers in quite a natural but destructive way. To prepare this artwork properly for riso printing required a lot of tidying up; all instances of each colour had to be compiled into a single layer including all the opacity variations. The way I normally work was not conducive to this workflow and raised a lot of unforeseen issues, resulting in a much more time-consuming pre-press process than I had originally allowed for.
In retrospect, I lost a lot of time tidying up these files for print and recognise now that it would have been quicker and tidier to have redrawn each colour of the illustration. This way I can continue to draw in a non-constrained way during the initial stages and still result in a well prepared final artwork file.
When I sent the files to the printer they got back to me to say that the large block of green would likely flood and create tide lines. In order to avoid this they suggested I set the green layer at 85%. I amended the file and sent it back.
When my prints arrived in the post, there was a lot I was happy with but i felt that it lacked the colour contrast I thought it would have. I followed the printers suggestion to reduce the green background but instead, I should have reworked the illustration and kept both the black and green at 100%. This would have given the colours maximum impact and contrast. I will be sure to keep this in mind next time.