Pigment Ink vs. Dye Ink: What Is the Best Ink for Card Making?

Pigment ink is a type of ink that offers many advantages over traditional dye-based inks. Using this water-based ink can be a great way to add color, texture, and vibrancy to your cards. But how do you use pigment ink? And is it the best ink for card making? Let’s find out more about pigment ink vs. dye ink, their features, pros, and cons!

Scrapbook journal and pigment ink pads

From Summer to Winter Pigment Ink Bundle

What Is Pigment Ink?

Pigment-based ink is a type of ink used to color paper and other surfaces. Pigments are tiny particles of solid matter suspended in a liquid or gas medium, such as water or air. In this case, the pigment is mixed with an oil-based carrier. This type of ink has been around for centuries and was originally made from natural pigments like those found in plants, animals, and minerals.

Pillow case stamped with images using pigment inks

Pillow case stamped with images using pigment inks

What Is Pigment Ink Made Of?

Pigment ink is generally made from a mix of water, pigment, resin, and other additives. Depending on the desired type of ink, this mixture may be heated or cooled as it is being created. 

This ink is most commonly used to print on textiles, packaging labels, and other specialty printing applications where durability is critical. It is also used in several different printers, including advanced industrial printing systems, digital textile printers, and direct-to-fabric printer models. The pigment components are typically water-based for ease of use and storage. Generally, the pigment particles are relatively large compared to dye molecules, which gives them a higher resistance to environmental conditions. 

While there are different types of pigment-based inks available today, each type shares the characteristic of being water-resistant and fade-resistant over time.

Pillow case stamped with images using pigment inks

Obsidian Pigment Ink

What Is a Pigment Ink Pad?

In paper crafting, using a pigment ink pad is nothing new. This water-proof ink is opaque, vibrant, and ideal for heat embossing techniques. It’s the perfect ink for heat embossing techniques because it sits on top of the paper and doesn’t absorb into it. It also takes longer to dry. These inks are more spongy and foamy compared to a dye ink pad. It is thicker and richer, and more fade-resistant.

Expand your knowledge and learn more about inks!

What Is the Difference Between Pigment Ink and Dye Ink?

If you’re new to stamping and card making, you’re probably confused about the difference between pigment-based inks and dye-based inks. What is the best ink for card making? Which one should you invest in? Get both! It’s hard to compare the two inks without highlighting some of their excellent features. As a card maker, you will be trying various techniques and need both types of ink to create beautiful and unique projects. 

The most notable difference when talking about pigment ink vs. dye ink, other than the formula, is that while the latter ‘dyes’ the surface, the former sits on top of it.

Pigment ink bundle from Altenew

Altenew Pigment Ink Bundle

Definition of Dye Ink

Most stampers will tell you that dye-based ink is the best ink for stamping. Dye-based ink is vibrant, translucent, acid-free, fast-drying, and fade resistant. It works well with various kinds of paper and pairs perfectly with rubber stamps and clear photopolymer stamps. Since the color substances are dissolved in a liquid, they absorb into the paper and don’t sit on top like a pigment ink pad.

Type of Ink




Pigment-based ink

  • Rich and thick
  • Opaque
  • Vibrant
  • It sits on top of the paper
  • Spongy and foamy pad
  • Glycerin base
  • Archival
  • Long-lasting
  • Acid-free
  • It doesn’t dry quickly, so it’s great for heat embossing techniques.
  • It’s water-resistant.
  • It can be used for various water-based techniques like watercoloring.
  • You can stamp lighter colors on dark cardstock.
  • It has an excellent, crisp result right away.
  • It takes too long to dry.
  • It is prone to smudging or smearing.
  • It needs to be set with a heating tool.
  • It needs reinking more often.

Dye-based ink

  • Smooth and crisp
  • Translucent
  • Vibrant
  • Absorbs into the paper
  • Felt pad
  • It dyes the paper
  • Water-based
  • Acid-free
  • Ideal for porous surfaces

  • It dries quickly.
  • It doesn’t smear or smudge.
  • Most companies offer re-inkers for this type of ink.
  • It is easy to apply to clear stamps and rubber stamps.
  • It is great for different card making techniques such as stamping, layered stamping, and mixed media techniques.
  • It is fade-resistant.
  • There is less bleeding compared to pigment ink pads.
  • It can take too long to even out and dry into the paper.
  • It dries too quickly.
  • It’s not water-resistant.
  • It can appear blotchy at first.
  • It stains your finger.
  • It can’t be used with watercolors and other water-based mediums.


Benefits of Using Pigment Ink vs. Dye Ink

This incredibly versatile ink can be applied to a broader range of fabrics than dye-based inks, including polyester and nylon; this makes them the preferred choice when creating custom textile items such as bags or t-shirts. It also provides better color accuracy than dye-based inks because it dries quickly with less bleeding or smearing when printed onto fabric substrates. It can withstand extremes of temperature and humidity, making them ideal for use under various environmental conditions.

Stamped images on a cork board using pigment ink pads

Green Fields Pigment Ink Bundle

One of the significant benefits of pigment-based ink is that it is waterproof. This means that you can use it to print on fabrics for outdoor clothing, packaging labels that need to withstand high levels of moisture, and more. Another benefit is that they are more water-resistant than dye inks. The ink will "bead" up when overlaying an area with water instead of sinking into the fibers like dye-based inks would do. This means you won't have to worry about ink bleeding when printing on cardstock paper or cardboard items.

One disadvantage is that pigment ink pads are more expensive than dye-based inks because of their added resin content, which helps them hold up better on thicker items like paper, cardstock, fabric, and plastics. Another potential downside is that it takes longer for the ink to dry on the surface than it would with other types of ink.

Choose from our wide range of pigment ink pads now!

What is the best ink for cardmaking?

The simple answer here is, it’s still a personal preference. Remember, not all inks are created equal! Do your research and find one that suits not just your budget but your crafting needs as well!

In the battle of pigment ink vs. dye ink, the former offers many advantages over the latter because it renders well to a wide variety of techniques and mediums. It might be a bit pricey than dye inks, but its durability and quality are unmatched.

Floral images stamped on fabric using pigment ink

Frosty Pink Pigment Ink

There are also different varieties of pigment-based inks available on the market, including solvent-based, water-based, or oil-based. The solvent-based pigment ink pad is by far the most popular and can be used with different types of fabric and other surfaces, such as paper and plastic.

Uses of Pigment Inks In Paper Crafting

What makes pigment ink pads a must-have for paper crafters? Not only are they versatile, but they can also be used in a wide range of DIY crafting projects: from handmade cards to scrapbook pages to personalized t-shirts! Yes, you read that right! These water-based inks can be used to stamp gorgeous and unique designs on different types of fabric such as cotton, canvas, and linen.  

Here are 9 things you should know about Altenew’s line of pigment-based inks!

  1. You can use them on various porous surfaces, such as paper, fabric, wood, cork, and more!
  2. These inks are more opaque and provide beautiful coverage.
  3. Since they are water-based, they will leave a gorgeous detailed impression every single time.
  4. You can set the stamped image with a heat gun or iron to make it permanent.
  5. These pigment inks are rich, vibrant, and acid-free!
  6. These inks are archival so your handmade projects will last for a long time without fading.
  7. They’re perfect for multiple card making techniques such as stamping, ink blending, heat embossing, and stenciling!
  8. You can use them on dark cardstock or dark surfaces! 
  9. There’s a range of color families to choose from, and they coordinate with the rest of our ink line!

DIY personalized t-shirt using pigment inks

Summer Fun Pigment Ink Bundle

12 DIY Paper Craft Projects That You Can Make Using Pigment Ink Pads

  1. Handmade cards
  2. Scrapbook pages
  3. Art journal cover
  4. Bullet journal page
  5. Mixed media art
  6. DIY home decor
  7. Gift boxes
  8. Personalized t-shirt
  9. Handmade tags
  10. DIY bookmarks
  11. Customized pillowcase
  12. DIY canvas drawstring bag

 DIY canvas bag stamped with pigment inks

Nature Blossoms Stamp Set

Pigment inks are a must-have for any paper crafting project. It is your best option if you’re looking to make cards, scrapbook pages, or mixed media art pieces with color and texture. These multipurpose inks can be used on most surfaces, including watercolor papers, wood veneers, fabric, and more! You can also blend pigments into each other using tools like sponges or ink blending brushes, creating an endless number of unique colors that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re a beginner who wishes to explore different techniques and ideas using these versatile ink pads, make sure to check out our Crafting 101 Mixed Media Inks online class! It’s a FREE class that you can easily access on our website.

Try Pigment Inks by Altenew Today!