The Riso Razzle Dazzle Effect

An interesting use for the well-known Risograph grainy texture effect applied to Illustration

A few years back Stefan Hürlemann wrote an interesting article on how he achieves what he called noisy, risograph-style gradients and textures. I somehow like calling it Riso Razzle Dazzle better :-)

I was interested in using this in one of my illustrations as it’s a bit different then some similar techniques I’ve employed over the years. I’m partially writing this so I won’t forget how I did it!

Here’s the illustration:

Blowing dandelions by Rob Levin

As you can see there’s a good deal of grainy texture on the potted elements, and this was done with Stephen’s 3rd technique which worked like this:

Look at the image size of your current document and take note of the width, height, and resolution

For the next step, we’ll create a new photoshop document at twice the width and height, but same resolution. The idea there is that the grain affect will look better once shrunk down to half the size.

Once I had the new document, I created a new layer filled with white, but you can do the inverse and work off of a black layer if your use case warrants it.

Next I added a filter to the white layer with Add Noise

Don’t forget to check Monochromatic

You could probably work with just this layer but Stephen also suggested to mess with adjustment curves which I went ahead and did. I used Increase contrast as a starting point and then made a few tweaks.

Finally, I dragged that layer to the top of my original project’s layer stack (on top) and set the layer’s blending mode to Overlay.

This essentially adds the noise texture to my entire artwork which already looked quite interesting, but not in every place. So, I simply used a layer mask and painted in black the areas with Photoshop’s stock Soft brush I didn’t want the effect on which was parts of the boy. If you want the area completely removed, you can use 100% opacity, and if you want it partially removed you can lower the opacity as you paint the areas. This is a pretty standard Photoshop technique which you can read about on Adobe’s site here.

I think this is a pretty fun affect if used tastefully — what do you think?

Rob Levin is a freelance illustrator. Portfolio: For illustration work enquiries, collaboration, or to say hi:

Also, you may like to read more of the illustration teardowns articles.

I’m a freelance illustrator and designer based in Austin, TX. Portfolio: Commissions:

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