Riso Print Effect in Photoshop

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riso print effect photoshop

Today we are going to create a riso print effect in Adobe Photoshop. This is not to be confused with setting up a file for an actual risograph printer. What we’re doing here today is simply creating the riso effect: artwork that looks like it was printed with a Risograph, only it’s strictly digital.

If you don’t know what a riso print is, I am more than happy to introduce you. It’s basically a graphic designer’s dream come true. Well, it’s mine, anyway.

According to The University of Illinois:

“The Risograph is a stencil duplicator. Think of it as a cross
between screen printing and photocopying. The Riso prints
one color at a time in bright, vibrant colors. It is ideal for
posters, graphic prints, zines, comics, and other graphic arts.”

PDF: https://art.illinois.edu/images/documents/Tutorials/riso_print_guide.pdf

Riso is actually short for Risograph, which is a special kind of printer that prints one color at a time. The ink colors are usually bright & vibrant. And part of the fun is in the overprint – where two colors printed on top of one-another create a third color, like in the photo below:

I just love the overprint vibes, but knockout is cool, too- especially since riso ink is so bright! Which one do you prefer?

I feel like riso printing must have come up at some point in the past 10+ years of graphic designing, but somehow I either A) just discovered it, or B) just rediscovered it 🤔. Actually, I think my college professor had a Risograph. Either way, it’s my current obsession!

Just go do a Pinterest search and get ready to be inspired.

So now that we’re all clear on what a risograph is, let’s create something like this using Adobe Photoshop.

Risograph Effect Step 1: Create Layered Art

Ok, the obvious first step here is that we need to create some artwork for our riso effect. I whipped out the ol’ Procreate App and made this “Just Peachy” Art in a matter of a few minutes.

I feel like it was cheating a bit, because just by using the Artistic > Quoll Brush in Procreate, I was able to create an imperfect-looking, textured work of art. Since quoll isn’t a 100% opaque brush, it’s even got a little bit of the overprint effect going already. But not nearly enough!

Riso Effect Import Procreate Art to Photoshop
Artwork drawn in Procreate App

It’s very easy to export your artwork from Procreate to a Photoshop .PSD file, which is exactly what I did. But the main thing to remember here is to create your art in layers. I can’t emphasize that enough! Layers, layers are your friend.

See how I have 7 wonderful layers in the image below? There’s a layer of pink peaches, a layer of stems for the pink peaches, a layer of orange peaches, a layer of stems for the orange peaches, a layer for the word just, and a layer for the word peachy. Plus a background layer and one extra layer I forgot to delete.

Layered Artwork from Procreate to Photoshop Layers
Composition meh/10

Risograph Effect Step 2: Change Blending Modes

The next obvious step is that you should RENAME YOUR LAYERS, because DUH: that’s graphic design best practice 101.

Oh, and if you’re like me, you remake the composition of your art because you aren’t happy with your original creation. Couldn’t have done it without my layers!

Reorganize the composition in Photoshop with layers

Now that we’ve got our composition, we’re nearly there. The final thing to do is to adjust the blending modes of the layers. This is the real magic.

By default, the blending mode is set to “Normal” for each layer.

You’ll find the Blending Modes Drop Down Menu right inside the layers panel. See it? See the word “Multiply” in the image below? That’s now my blending mode for the “Orange” Layer.

Changing the blending mode to Multiply riso effect Photoshop
Blending Mode: Multiply

The effects are immediately obvious. Now my orange-colored and pink-colored peaches are really popping, and where they overlap, the effect looks a lot like a riso overprint! Don’t you think?

There are a lot of Blending Modes to choose from, and obviously you should cycle through them all just for funsies, but I found that Multiply and Linear Burn gave me an effect most like a risograph print.

Risograph Effect Step 3: More Fun with Blending Modes

Ok, so I was fairly happy with my finished results, but naturally I had to take it one step further.

I added back some stems to my orange-colored peaches and cycled through the blending modes. Subtract turned them pink, and I absolutely love the end result.

Subtract Blending Mode Photoshop Riso Effect
Subtract Blending Mode

I loved it so much I was inspired to do a little bit more and play around with my original composition that had the bright lettering. Nothing really says riso print more than BRIGHT VIBRANT colors.

Riso Effect in Photoshop Results
Riso Effect with Photoshop Blending Modes

I loved these riso effect prints so much I went ahead and threw both of them in my Etsy Shop as Instant Download Printable Wall Art. They are High Quality 11×14″. Grab them here:


So what do you think? Are you going to give this Photoshop riso effect a try? If you do, be sure to tag me @makerlex on Instagram so I can see your creations.

Check out some of my other Graphic Design Tutorials:

If you enjoyed this tutorial, Pin it for later or share it with friends. I would so appreciate it if you do!

riso print effect photoshop makerlex

Happy Risographing,

Maker Lex Signature

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