Inkpads – What are the differences between Archival, Distress, Pigment etc

This is a quick guide to some of the ink pad brands you will see around and what they will do.  There are quite a few types of inkpad and they all have different uses . There is not one inkpad that will do absolutely everything. So choose your inkpad to match the job you want to do.

Ranger – Tim Holtz Distress Inkpads


Distress inkpads are water based ink which can be used  for general stamping and colouring and are one of the most popular inkpads at the moment with a large colour range.   Distress inkpads can be used for vintage effects, aging paper and photographs. The ink is designed to stay wet for a long time so that colours can be mixed and special effects created through misting, applying water and heat. Use a special craft mat or an old tile as your palette, to mix/apply the ink, just tap the foam of the inkpad against the mat  you can then use a water colour paintbrush or water brush to apply or mix the shade you want.  Store upside down for best results,  re-inkers are available.  You will find the stamped image is not as crisp as the other inkpads.

Archival Inkpads


Archival  pigment ink  gives a very detailed, clear image. It is very thick ink and does not dry fast, ideally it should be heat set with a special heat tool otherwise it will smear and smudge. Ideal for use with embossing powders. Water based markers can be used with the stamped image to colour them in, it will not smear or bleed when it is dry. Use a light touch when inking a stamp as it is so thick you can easily over ink a stamp. Ideal for stamping sentiments. Eg Ranger Archival Inkpads, VersaMark Watermark Inkpad.

Chalk Ink

Chalk ink is a hybrid pigment ink dries very fast, so excellent for scrapbooking or stamping. You cannot use heat embossing powders easily because the ink is too dry to hold the powder and you haven’t got time to do any effects  or mix colours successfully. Eg Versamagic

Dye based Ink


Dye based ink such as Memento, is great for stamping an image that you are going to colour with alcohol ink pens such as Copic Ciao. It doesn’t smear or bleed and dries quickly. It can also be used with water based markers. Dye based inks are translucent and sink into the paper quickly.

Oil based pigment ink


Oil based pigment ink such as Versafine will give you a very detailed clear stamped image. Perfect for use with water colour markers and it dries quickly. Don’t use alcohol inks markers with this type of ink as it will smudge and bleed.

Solvent ink


Solvent inkpads such as Stazon, can be used to stamp on plastic, acrylic, metal and glass, it dries almost instantly. Use this inkpad when you want to colour an image with water colours and water colour markers, do not use Stazon with alcohol ink pens as it will smudge or bleed. Stazon inkpads are  recommended for use on parchment paper. Quick tip: Always keep the plastic inner cover on the inkpad as it prevents the inkpad from drying out.

If in doubt always read the packaging to make sure inkpad is the right one for your purpose.


2 thoughts on “Inkpads – What are the differences between Archival, Distress, Pigment etc

  1. I found this so helpful. I can never remember off the top of my head which ink pad to use for the various projects I do. It’s now in my favourites. I found this page when looking for parchment scissors. Thank you. Joan Western

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