There are lots of ink options available and the various selections can be overwhelming to a beginner or even a seasoned paper crafter.
Waterbased Inks (Most Common). They should be acid free (if you are scrapbooking) and they are great for general stamping. I have found that you get what you pay for with these. There are some really inexpensive options out there at craft stores and other retailers, but, I find if you pay for the better quality ink, it will provide a better image and last longer. (I have heard of SU demos that have used the same ink pads for upwards of 4 years with out re-inking) I simply dont believe a cheap ink pad will last long (they tend to dry up fast)or give you teh same quality as the ink that specifically created for creative stamping (like the inks offered by Stampin' Up!)
Dye Based Archival Ink....this is waterproof, non smearing ink. It is great for scrapbooking.
Pigment inks are water based and formulated to stamp on absorbent papers. Ideal for embossing on coated or nonabsorbent papers because they are slow drying which also gives them a long shelf life.
Craft Ink....generally a thicker ink, may have to be heat set to get it to dry quickly. These inks provide a very rich color.
Distress Inks...these are the ones that have Tim's Holtz's name on them. They are alcohol based and are GREAT for doing techniques and inking edges. They don't stamp well because they dry much too quickly. I find other alchol inks are great for coloring book style images, they provide great color and dry fast, so you avoid smudging. (I use copic markers, but I guess I shouldnt say that ;)
Staz On....is great for porous or glossy surfaces. Comes in a huge range of colours. It is awesome on acrylic albums, transparencies, glass, glossy paper and so on. I actually enjoy stamping my coloring book images with this ink because it does dry quickly and doesnt smear as much as the water or craft inks.
Versamark....is a watermark ink. This can be used for embossing, chalk popping, stamping if you just want a very subtle tone on tone look. I love to use the versamark ink to use my stamps to create custom scrapbook paper in any image, easily matched to the color I am working with because the ink takes on the color of its paper.
Fluid Chalk Inks share the resilience of pigment ink but stamp & blend like dye ink, drying quickly on absorbent surfaces. Permanent when heat set, they resist smearing, bleeding & fading even when air dried. They give a very flat, muted finished surface - These inks are becoming increasingly popular, personally, I have not used them very much.
With so many ink options out there, it can be hard to find just the type you need, especially if your crafting is not limited to one style.
I recommend you start with a basic black in each style and some markers. This way you can check out the qualities of each type of ink, in black, before you buy one of each color. Markers are an inexpensive option to color all of your images, you can color direct to the stamp or you can stamp in black and color your images to suit your tastes.
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