Scrapbook.com Article Head

Top Craft Inks And Their Properties

What is the Difference Between Pigment Ink and Dye Ink?

Craft stamp pads generally come in two types: pigment inks and dye inks. Many crafters ask, "what is the difference between pigment ink and dye ink?".  In order to understand the difference, it's best to look at the properties and definitions of each one separately. 

Definition of Pigment Ink

Pigment Inks are vibrant in intensity and opaque. They appear as the same color in the pad as they do when they are stamped out on the paper. Pigments are finely ground particles of color that are suspended in the liquid medium. Pigment Inks are slower-drying because the ink actually sits on top of the paper. Pigment inks are used for embossing. If you want to speed up the process of drying with pigment inks you can use a heat tool. If you use a pigment ink on a glossy paper without using a heat tool, it will not dry for a long time. Because of their formulation, when you have a multi-ink pad, the colors will not bleed into each color. 

Tip: Try using pigment ink on black paper for a fun effect! White pigment ink on black paper created a faux chalkboard appearance!

Definition of Dye Ink

Dye ink is the classic stamping and scrapbooking ink. Dyes are actually dissolved into a liquid like water to create the ink. Dye-based inks absorb into the paper, bind to it and dry quickly. This means that the color you see in the stamp pad may look different on paper, depending on the paper it is used on. Dye inks are often easier to use and less expensive than their pigment counterparts. But, unlike pigment inks, you cannot use light colored dye inks on dark paper or cardstock because the dye ink seeps into the paper and will not show.  

Now that you have a general understanding of the differences between the two types of craft ink, we can look at specific types and their properties. Below, we list several different ink brands and types and explore their uses. 

Brilliance Pads (Tsukineko)

These vibrant, shimmering ink pads are fast drying Pigment, archival- formulated to perform on most GLOSSY surfaces including vellum, photos, tissue, mica, coated or ordinary papers. Acid free, fade resistant and non toxic. Though they are pigment ink they fast drying, therefore, harder to emboss. Learn more. 

Premium Hybrid Ink (Scrapbook.com)

These Hybrid Ink Pads are archival safe and made in the United States. Available in a wide array of fresh, juicy colors. These are very vibrant and are highly rated online. With matching Reinkers, these pads can last you a long time, being great for novice and veteran stampers alike.  

Clearsnap Crafter's Pigment (Clearsnap)

Water-based pigment ink modified to ideally suit craft applications on fabric, wood, wall stenciling and shrink plastic. Becomes permanent when heat set. The mini-pads which can be removed and used individually.

Colorbox Pigment (Clearsnap)

Water-based thick pigment ink. Fantastic results on absorbent paper. Glossy or coated papers will require embossing. PH balanced for archival purposes and child safe. (Full Size, Cat's Eyes, Options Pads and Petal Points) Again mini pads can be removed and used individually.

Clearsnap MetalExtra (Clearsnap)

Metallic pigment ink formulated to quick dry on most surfaces including vellum, photos, tissue, coated or ordinary papers. Acid free, fade resistant and non toxic.

Clearsnap Fluid Chalk Ink Pd (Clearsnap)

Premium pigmented dye ink pad with new skin-foam technology on the pad. Use on glossy or coated papers. Heat set on non-coated papers. Many stampers have enjoyed watercoloring with the reinkers (Full Size, Cat's Eyes, Options Pads and Petal Points) Is Acid Free once the ink dries.

Fresco Chalk (Gary Burlin)

A dye ink pad that recreates the subtle chalking colors and mottled matte finish of the Renaissance classics. Acid free, fade resistant, archival. Heat set for permanent, waterproof, non-smearing finish. 

Mica Magic (Clearsnap)

A fast drying shimmering, metallic pigment ink- air dries to delightful luster or shine on most smooth or glossy surfaces. Light, fast and ideal for all papers, shrink plastic, polymer clay, style stones, glass or ceramics (waterproof when heat set). Acid free and archival. Can also be heat set for improved permanence.

Versafine (Tsukineko)

Quick drying natural oil-based opaque pigment (vs waterbased)ink dries instantly on matte cardstock, providing incredibly fine detail. You are able to watercolor or marker over stamped images and it won't bleed. No inkers needed, inkpad lasts 3-5 times longer than regular inks. 

Versa Craft (Tsukineko)

An all-surface multicolor ink pad. Works on paper, fabric, wood and shrink plastic. Heat Setting recommended on all surfaces. Child safe.

Versacolor Ultimate Pigment Pad (Tsukineko)

Most versatile ink in the industry is their claim. Non-Toxic, Archival and Acid Free. VersaColor is a good, high quality, pigment ink, with rich colors. It works great for embossing with embossing powders, or embossing with sticky powder and covering with clear tiny glass marbles. This ink contains glycerin, making it very slow drying and pigment coloring, making it opaque rather than semi-transparent, like a dye ink. But For stamping on vellum, glossy paper or other smooth surfaces, I recommend Brilliance, StazOn or Palettes ink pads, rather than pigment ink.

Versamagic (Tsukineko)

Archival chalk pigment pad. Opaque pigment ink designed for an elegant chalk finish. Water-based, acid free. Allows for multi-surface decorating like wood, fabric and leather.

Ultimate Metallic Pigment Pad (Tsukineko)

Metallic, acid-free pigment ink that adds shimmering pearlescence to any stamping project. Quick drying, fade resistant, cleans up with water, archival.

Opalite (Tsukineko)

Reflective interference pads, archival pigment ink ideal for adding sparkling dimension to any stamping project. Dazzling results on shrink plastic, dark or glossy papers.

Pearl Ex Pigment Pads (Jacquard)

Pearl-Ex stamp pads are permanent ink pads that come in gold-tone duos, metallics, interference, and basic colors. Archival quality, permanent on every surface. Easy clean up with water. Outstanding results on shrink plastic, dark or glossy paper. Clean stamps with water immediately after use.

StazOn (Tsukineko)

Solvent ink pad designed for NON-POROUS surfaces including glass, metal, shrink plastic, laminated paper, cellophane, aluminum foil, leather & acrylic. Does not require re-inking the stamp pad between uses. Low odor, archival and acid free. A special cleaner is sold for these ink pads. The cleaner is not recommended for clear stamps.

StazOn Opaque (Tsukineko)

This ink is different than the other colors. It dries quickly on nonporous surfaces like StazOn and it is permanent with heat setting, but it is thicker, more like paint. It comes with an uninked pad and ink refill. It takes about 1/3 of the refill bottle to initially ink the pad. (has same uses as StazOn)

Encore Ultimate Metallic Stamp Pads (Tsukineko)

These are pigment inks best used on non-glossy paper. Ideal for scrapbooking because it’s the quickest-drying true metallic ink.

Ancient Page Dye Ink Pads (Clearsnap)

Dye ink, archival, acid free, waterproof, smear resistant and quick dry. 

Vivid Dye Ink Pads (Clearsnap)

Premium dye ink pad with new skin foam technology on the pad. Use on glossy or coated papers for dazzling results. Non-permanent. These work great with water misters to soften or watercoloring images. Acid-free

Memories Dye Ink Pads (Stewart Superior)

Fade resistant dye ink for archival use. Will not smear. Acid free. 

Archival Dye Inks (Ranger)

Manufactured with special fade resistant dyes. Archival ink will not deteriorate paper and photos or bleed when painted over with water based markers, blenders, watercolors, pigments or colored pencils. Non toxic. (My favorite ink for base images that will not be embossed)


These are dye inks. Adirondack Earthtones, Adirondack Lights (Sea shells) are pastel colors and Adirondack Brights (Sea Brights) are bright colors. Quick drying on all types of paper. Non Toxic & Child Safe. The product line includes coordinating water based pigment pens for thick solid color, ADIRONDACK RAINBOW PADS, embossing powders, and Adirondack Pigment Inks (Rich, colorful Pigment Inks in the Adirondack color palette). 

Big and Juicy (Ranger)

4-1/4" x 6-1/4" raised felt dye inkpad. Acid free, Non-toxic, Quick Drying. 

Adirondack Dye Ink Pad (Ranger)

Quick drying dye ink on all types of paper. Non toxic. (These are some of my favorite ink pads and colors.)

Nick Bantock Dye Ink Pads (Ranger)

This is an intense dye ink. Each pad is 2" x 2" with raised felt to ink any sized rubber stamp. This dye based ink that is acid-free and non-toxic.

Kaleidacolor Dye Ink Pads (Tsukineko)

Water based Rainbow Dye Ink Pads with a sliding mechanism to keep colors from bleeding when not in use. Acid free. (This is a wonderful pad for use with your brayer to create stunning and simple backgrounds). 

Palette Hybrid Ink Pads (Stewart Superior)

Fine art colors that look like pigment ink but dry like dye. Works on all surfaces. Fast drying, waterproof, with bright colors and excellent print quality. Acid free, archival, non-fading.

Palette Hybrids Metallics (Stewart Superior)

Each uninked pad comes with a full reinker. This prevents this product from drying out on the shelf. Palette Hybrid Metallics are fast drying, permanent metallic, iridescent ink for detailed shimmering images. They create stunning results on light or dark surfaces and acid free, archival and non-fading. They work on virtually all surfaces - some surfaces may require heat setting. Lid snaps into base creating a handle for easy inking. Palette Hybrid Metallics are waterproof and embossable. Colors can be layered for dual tone and faux finishes. A light spritz with water will refresh inkpad. Reinkers are available. 

Castaway (Jacquard)

Stamp your image using this clear, thin, ink and let it soak into the paper for about 5 minutes. Iron directly onto your paper using a craft iron on the cotton setting. This product does not claim to be non-toxic or acid-free. It doesn't have a strong odor or seem to be harsh on skin.

Clear Resist Ink (Ranger)

Acid Free, Non-Toxic, Clear Resist is not as juicy as VersaMark but actually resists ink a little better and provides clearer images. It doesn't work as an embossing ink as well as VersaMark.

VersaMark Watermark Stamp Pad (Tsukineko)

Acid Free, Non-Toxic, VersaMark resists ink on glossy or coated papers. It also acts as a watermark on paper for tone on tone images and works well as an embossing ink. VersaMark does not stamp quite as crisply as Ranger Clear Resist because it is a juicier ink. It also does not resist ink quite as strongly. (Also comes in pen form)

Note: Zig also makes Embossing Ink Pens with variety of tips.

Palette Watermark Pad (Stewart Superior)

Creates watermark style images on text weight paper. Makes tone on tone of faux effects on uncoated colored papers for a soft shadow appearance. For dye ink resist techniques stamp onto glossy paper and then heat set. Then apply the dye inks with a brayer or applicator. The stamped image will resist the dye ink colors. (I personally have no experience with this pad)

Top Boss Embossing Stamp Pads (Clearsnap)

Use tinted for colored embossing powders and untinted for clear embossing powder. Emboss with untinted/clear and you can create a resist on any paper, not just glossy or coated. Clear is harder to use because very difficult to see where image stamped. 

Marvy Matchables (Marvy)

Dye ink with unique non-bleed formula. (usually very juicy pads) Marvy Ink Pads are 2" x 2" with a highly raised surface so you can ink any size stamp. The matching Wet Looks Pens can be used to draw or color images on glossy paper and then be embossed with clear powder for a shiny raised look. Wet Looks are available in 21 of the Marvy Matchable Colors. Also in this line is MARVY BRUSH MARKERS 


This is the same set up as Marvy Matchables yet has 4 coordinating color strips within the 2" x 2" pad. (When new there are plastic divider strips between each color ...Remove and toss away to activate the color blending pad)

Distress Ink Pads (Tim Holtz & Ranger)

Water-based dye ink pad. They're perfect for adding a vintage, stained, aged effect to your papers and photos. These are slow drying inks which can be spritzed or wiped with water after inking an image or wiping the ink pad directly on paper to create an aged look. Acid free, non toxic, fade resistant. 

The Importance of Reinkers

As you've seen from this extensive, information-packed post, there are endless colors and types of ink pads to use in your creative journey. But what good are ink pads if you use up all the amazing ink contained within them? Turn your frown upside down when you arm yourself with must-have reinkers for all your favorite ink pads!

When your ink pads are getting a little dried out and need freshening up, reach for the reinkers that you've stored in your .5 oz ColorCase. The ColorCase was designed to fit over a dozen popular brands' .5 oz bottle reinkers, including Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Reinkers, Ranger Archival Ink Reinkers, Scrapbook.com's Hybrid Ink Reinkers, and more!

ColorCase ReinkersYou'll never have to search for that one right color for your ink pad in need of some refreshment when you have all your reinkers arranged in the ColorCase! You can even turn the bottles right-side up while you work; the ColorCase will hold your bottles for you as you're reinking one or all of your pads!

Need a fantastic walkthrough on reinking your ink pads? Check out this helpful video from Scrapbook.com:

NOTE: If you are looking for stamping inks and other stamping supplies, we recommend the Scrapbook.com Store's stamping section for a wide variety of products.

NOTE: This article is based on a tip was submitted by Scrapbook.com member Tina C

Additional Articles
Card Making