Risograph Stop Motion

Risograph Printing:
It was first released in Japan in August 1986. Its function is often described as a mix between screen printing and photocopying, as it can only print one color at a time. It’s known for its vibrant, flourescent colors and natural quirks. 

The Idea

For the animation, I decided I wanted to make 2-1/2-D looking thing where my head rotates 360 degrees in a continuous loop. I wanted to make a creative portrait of myself for my website homepage in a medium I really love, so combining my two true loves (animation and riso), I figured it would be an awesome representation of myself.

The Process

Is this the most efficient way to get this done? Definitely not. But it worked and here’s what I did.

Step 1: Creating the Animation

I first drew a frame by frame animation in Procreate, rotoscoping over a video of myself spinning 360 degrees. I kept it as a simple line drawing, saving coloring for later since you cannot animate o multiple layers in Procreate.

Step 2: Adobe Animate

I could have drawn the frames mentioned above in Animate, but the convenience of my iPad and Apple Pen saved me a lot of time. I then imported each of the 23 frames into Adobe Animate as a PNG sequence.

You can see in this screengrab, I had 4 layers: the outline of the face, the blue background, the pink, and the yellow. I colored in each individual frame in their own layers. Notice I have more than 23 frames here. This is because I originally planned on having a longer animation and have my head turn into some other funky things, but for reasons I’ll explain later, they weren’t printed. I did however do all of the work for a total of 114 frames (yikes!) but only ended up with 23 frames.

Step 3: Making a Template in Photoshop

I then made a template in photoshop to prepare fro printing. The file was 11"x17" and each space on the template was only about 1.5".

I numbered each box so I wouldn’t get confused after printing and labeled each template with the color it was supposed to be printed as. I imported my frames from Adobe Animate as a PNG sequence into Photoshop and positioned them into the template for each color. I at first did this all in one file so I could make sure they were lined up correctly. After I was sure they were positioned crorected, I converted them to black and white, adjusted to opacity to how I wanted it to look printed, and put them in their own files.

Yellow, Pink, and Blue files ready to go!
I combined the outline and the background into one color, but made the opacity of the background lower so the outline would be the darkest. Creating the template and placing the PNGs was the most time consuming part. I had to think about so many things at one time. Here are some of the things I had to constantly be aware of:

How will the color mix when I chaneg their opacities?

Is everything scaled correctly?

Which color is which?

What order will they be printed and how will that affect the color?

Step 4: Printing

With my files ready to go, I saved them as PDFs and brought them to the printer. For some reason, it took about 20 minutes to create each master copy, and sometimes it would incorrectly scale the master copy, so this is why I ended up only doing the first page of my templates.

After they came out of the printer, I scanned them onto a USB. The paper was too big, so I had to scan the pages in four parts. But heres a snippet of what it looked like after all the colors printed. The vibrant pink didnt pick up very well in the scan, but they still look cool.

One of the prints was accidnetally put back in the machine upside down, but I love the way it turned out. Th elayering of color and text feels so much more dynamic thenjust my head spinnign around, and inspired me to be more experiemntsal with color and shape moving forward.

Step 5: Back to Photoshop & Animate

In photoshop, I isolated and removed each frame into its own layer. I was then able to export a PNG sequence from the layers into Adobe Animate. I repositioned and rescaled each one to be lined up in the new canvas in Animate.

In Animate, I used th eonion skin tool to make sur ethey were lined up the same.

I repeated this process twice: one with the “good” copy and one with the “messed up” copy. I exported them as Gifs and mp4s.

The Final Product

And now I present to you, the final product.

This was the one that was printed incorrectly, but as I stated, I love it even more than my original one.

And heres the original one.


I feel very satisfied with my end result, and really proud I was able to actually do it. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and so happy I finally did it. It motivated me to get back to the Riso and now I feel like experimenting with animation in other ways. I now have the urge to screen print the frames manually and repeat the process. Maybe a block brint or laser cut paper would be cool too. The possibilities are endless!