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Dye Ink Comparison

Dye Ink Comparison

Happy Friday All!

I tend to get different results with the various inks I have. So, I decided to once and for all figure out which inks do better under which circumstances. For this video, I compared these dye inks:

  • Adirondack
  • Memento
  • Stampin’ Up!
  • Distress
  • Hero Hues
  • Hero Arts Shadow

I tested both general stamping (on rubber and non-photopolymer clear) and cardstock inking with a foam applicator. The results were very interesting! Watch the video and then read my final commentary afterward. Photos are below that. 🙂

So, if you watched the whole video, you saw that each ink kind of had its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to consider what characteristics are more important to you. General stamping or cardstock inking? What is your budget? Are you willing to collect multiple brands to have more “looks” at your fingertips?

I first got into cardmaking through Stampin’ Up!, so I started collecting their ink pads without really doing any research. I’m extremely happy with my choice, even now, especially as a beginner. Beginner stampers do more general stamping rather than experimenting with techniques. Stampin’ Up! is perfect for that. I purchased the ink pads by collections (10 ink pads in each collection in a variety of colors for $49.95), purchasing the Brights Collection first. Then, I moved on to the Subtles and Regals. I don’t use a lot of Stampin’ Up! Neutral ink pads, as I prefer other brands for that type of stamping (read more on that below). If you just want to purchase a few colors, they are $5.95 per ink pad. My favorite colors are Real Red, Melon Mambo, Tempting Turquoise, Wild Wasabi, Pumpkin Pie, and Daffodil Delight.

For more advanced cardmakers, Stampin’ Up! has that cool water effect when you apply it to cardstock using a foam applicator. I really love that. You get a little bit more of a cloudy effect with the ink coverage, but that all creates interest, too. And actually, if you use Stampin’ Up! cardstock (rather than the Neenah I used in the video), you get an even smoother coverage.

Not keen on Stampin’ Up! but you are a beginner? Consider the basic Hero Hues dye inks, another great general stamping brand. The images in my video came out really crisp and clean. There are only 8 colors available in this line (plus black and white). They sell individually for $6.49-$7.00, and are available at both SimonSaysStamp and Ellen Hutson. Search “hero hues dye” to bring up all the colors in stock. The only thing I didn’t like about this ink was that you couldn’t get that water-spritz effect. But for a beginner, these pads are great for general stamping.

I think it’s important to have an ink that will work great on both rubber stamps and clear stamps, so those are the two I would recommend.

Because the Distress Inks have a lot of special properties that are conducive to various techniques, I have chosen to collect these as well. At first, I didn’t use them very often because the colors weren’t as vibrant as Stampin’ Up!’s. However, Tim Holtz has released lots of new vibrant colors in the last year or two that I absolutely love, like Picked Raspberry and Peacock Feathers. Every time there is a new one, I want it! I love the Distress inks so much that I also purchased the markers. Stay tuned for a video on Stampin’ Up! vs Distress markers soon.

I have purchased the Distress inks individually, but you can get the original pads and seasonal pads (with reinkers) as sets at Simon Says Stamp. If you’re going the individual pad route, my favorites are Picked Raspberry, Peacock Feathers, Broken China, Dusty Concord, Squeezed Lemonade, Spiced Marmalade, Peeled Paint, Evergreen Bough, and Chipped Sapphire. For red I used Barn Door, but I’m thinking I need to buy Festive Berries (going on my wishlist now!).

The Stampin’ Up! inks and the Distress Inks pretty much get equal use in my craft room.

Honestly, I know less about Adirondack and Memento because I haven’t spent a lot of time with them. If some of you cardmakers out there want to chime in on these brands, that would be great.

Regarding the neutral colors, my main black go-to inks are Memento Tuxedo Black (dye) and Versafine Onyx Black (pigment). I find that these are fantastic every time. Memento is especially great when using Copics. Versafine is the ultimate black ink for clear stamps, especially for sentiments and solid images. I know it’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

Browns? I use Memento Rich Cocoa (dye) and Versafine Vintage Sepia (pigment). I also like Stampin’ Up!’s Chocolate Chip, although I don’t use it as often as the other two. I do, however, use Stampin’ Up! black marker and chocolate chip marker all the time. They have a great tip for writing and drawing straight lines.

Another neutral I really like is Hero Arts Shadow in Soft Granite. The color is just the perfect gray, not too light and not too dark. I use it mostly for background stamping, so color stumps a crisp clean image.

As far as purchasing reinkers, I know a lot of people buy the reinker when they buy the ink pad. I have found that my ink pads last a pretty long time, so I don’t purchase the reinkers until I need them. After 5 years of using Stampin’ Up! inks, I have only needed to purchase one reinker. I have yet to purchase a Distress ink reinker. Maybe they will all fade at the same time and then I’ll be in for an investment!!

Here are photos of my results. If you click the images, a bigger photo will show with more detail:
Dye Ink Comparison

Dye Ink Comparison

Dye Ink Comparison

Dye Ink Comparison

Dye Ink Comparison

Okay, I hope this information helped you in your decision making. It was a fun experiment for me!

If you’re interested in even more info on dye ink performance, check out my stamping-off comparison post.



  1. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Mary, Wausau WI

    Thanks for taking the time to film and edit the comparison of these ink pads! I’ve always used distress inks for making my backgrounds – – but I see it’s time to get out the whisper white card stock and play with my stampin up ink pads and foam applicators!!!
    Have a great day – –

  2. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 11:40 am


    Thanks for the comparisons, Darlene. Now we won’t have to do all that!

  3. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 11:58 am


    Great video and good to know! I have a combination of all of those pads with the exception of Hero Arts Hues. I do love Stampin’ Up! the best for general stamping. I also LOVE my Distress Inks for techniques.

  4. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 11:59 am


    Thank you so much for doing this! You are the best. This was very helpful and informative. I’ve been using Stampin’ Up! inks for a while, but have been really curious about the distress and HA shadow inks. Thanks again.

  5. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Maria A. Rodriguez

    Oh Darlene, you are amazing and so generous to take the time to do this comparisons for us. I always wonder about ink pads, I have a few SU, mostly for sentiments but if I want to stamp a solid stamp, they don’t work to good at all unless it’s on SU paper like Whisper White or Very Vanilla. Most of the time I stamp images that I can water color and for that, I use just WC paper from Hobby Lobby, I like it a lot. I have some ink refills that I use a lot for coloring my images with the aqua painters and they work really good. I want to get the new colors like Strawberry Slush and Costal Cabana, they are really pretty.
    Anywho, thank you again, so much for this very informative video.

  6. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Sonya van Stee

    You’ve probably already mentioned it 100 times, but what brand are your foam applicators? I’ve never tried colouring my cardstock, but I love the effect every time you do it!

    • wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Sonya, the foam applicator is made by Ranger. 🙂

  7. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Sandra ltb

    Are these the new SU ink pads? I have so many of the old ones and do not get as clean images as you do, just wondering if that is the reason. I have heard that people like the new pads a lot.
    thanks for the comparison, very interesting.
    Sandra ltb

    • wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Sandra! Actually, the pad I used in the video was the old pad. I just have a couple of the new ones. I like them a little better because they seem to be easier to ink your stamp with. But, I don’t think it’s worth re-buying colors to get the new pads.

  8. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Amy Pjura

    thank you so much for doing this video! I was just wondering the other day if other stamp pads could be used for blending. just a wonderful video.

  9. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Di Jackins

    Excellent, Darlene! Thanks so much for doing this video it sure cleared up a lot for me. Most of my ink is SU but I do have a couple of Versa magic that I like and one is Red Magic, so very pretty. Of course I have not done testing as you have. Thanks for all you do and share with us.

  10. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Linda Fuller

    Wow, thanks Darlene for a really informative tutorial on something every papercrafter uses!

  11. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:14 pm


    Thank you for this very comprehensive comparison. I have often wondered how the various inks compare, but have never done a comparison, so thank you for doing all the work! It was really interesting to see how well the shadow ink covered the card stock. I didn’t expect that. It was also interesting to see how well each ink reacted with the water. Again, I was surprised to see that the Hero Arts inks didn’t really react at all. Thanks again. I do always enjoy your videos!

  12. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 2:22 pm


    Thank You Darlene, for your Dye ink comparison tutorial, I was just debating whether I should sell my Stampin up ink and purchase other brands. But after seeing the differences, I think I will hang on to my Stampin up inks and enjoy them. 🙂

  13. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 4:29 pm


    Thanks so much. This was so informative. Was just wondering why you don’t consider ColorBox inks?

    • wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Myra, I didn’t use Colorbox because the only ones I have are pigment inks. You are not the only person who asked about Colorbox, so maybe I will buy one and add it to the comparison! 🙂

  14. wrote on November 8th, 2013 at 9:47 pm


    You always have such great ideas here. Although I have been stamping for 10+ years, this was very interesting to me. I love the Distress Inks and also the Memento Inks. I just got the SU pads last year when I hosted a month and they were a bonus hostess gift and I got the half price items to complete my set. I love all of them but for different things. I prefer Memento Inks and Papertrey Inks for the cleanest images. I use mostly clear stamps and find they work the best. I also love Copics and Memento are the only ones that are consistently colorfast. Mementoes also work well with stipple brushes and give a nice edge without being too juicy. I rarely stamp with Distress but use them for watercoloring and also distressing paper.

    Thanks for all your hard work, I always learn something when I come here!

  15. wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Casey Thrush

    This was a great comparison! Thanks for doing these types of things for us. I love knowing that Stampin’ Up pads are good for what I do and that Hero Arts are good too if I need different color selections. I was very surprised about how that grey dried on the background…it looked awesome. I hope you do more of this kind of stuff for us!

  16. wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 4:43 am


    Thank you for that test … it was very helpful. Have a nice weekend. Greetings from Berlin, Germany

  17. wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 5:27 am


    Wow, what a lot of work to make the multiple comparisons. I have been stamping for years, and was still surprised at some of the side by side comparisons. Thanks so much for sharing this video.

  18. wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 7:11 am


    Hi Darlene
    Thanks for this very informative video. I’ve always wondered what the differences were. Thanks again

  19. wrote on November 9th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    susan h

    Thanks so much. The pictures and descriptions are so helpful.

  20. wrote on November 10th, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Susan W

    Thanks for the comparisons! I concur…my experience has been pretty much the same.

  21. wrote on November 10th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Kathy H

    Hi Darlene,
    Thank you for taking the time to do a video comparison. I used to use only pigment inks when I first started stamping but after a huge smudging fiasco a couple of years ago when I was mass producing cards for Valentine’s, I put the pigments away and started buying dye inks. My one lament was that dye inks are not as vibrant as pigment inks but now that is changing with the newer Distress colors, etc. Also, started collecting SU inks this past year, once I saw how beautifully those inks stamp…and especially on Whisper White card stock! The two inks you mentioned as your favorites are my favs as well.
    I love that you took the time to put this information together, now I can refer people to this video when they have questions about dye inks.
    Awesome work!

  22. wrote on November 10th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Sharon Hayes

    Darlene, thank you for the video comparison of dye inks. It helps me in my decision on which ink to use for my various purposes. Stampin’ Up ink is a favorite stamping ink and especially true when using Stampin’ Up paper. I agree the Versafine black onyx is expensive but worth it. It is the only ink I use for sentiments in black and for silhouettes. Perfect every time! You are so talented. I appreciate every video tutorial that you share. Thank you so much.

  23. wrote on November 10th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Sue Siddoway

    Thank you for doing this! That was very helpful.

  24. wrote on November 11th, 2013 at 9:15 am


    I love this comparison! Thank you. Have you tried any of the Gina K. inks? Particular the black and white? They’re pretty awesome, and now I’d love to know how they compare within this little study you’ve done!

    • wrote on November 13th, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Kim, no I have not tried the Gina K. inks. I just looked and she has some really pretty colors. Maybe one day I will get some to compare.

  25. wrote on November 11th, 2013 at 4:36 pm


    Hi Darlene,
    Thanks for doing the comparison, but now that you have…. why would anyone buy Androndack inks? What can these be used for?

    • wrote on November 13th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Anthea, the rubber stamping with the Adirondack wasn’t too bad. People might purchase it because of their colors. They do a lot of coordination with multiple shades of one color.

  26. wrote on November 12th, 2013 at 8:26 am


    Thanks for ink comparison. It sure helps when tackling different techniques.

  27. wrote on November 13th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Robin in WA

    Love these types of videos!! Thanks for the comparison Darlene! I have to say that the Hero Hues surprised me! I love how the Stampin’ Up pads are stored upright but the pads are upside down! How clever!! I have really old Stampin’ Up pads (~15 years old, and yes they still work) and the lids are attached and very difficult to get off–so the newer design is great!! I’m going to make a chart based on your findings and hang it in my space to refer to. Thanks again!

  28. wrote on May 24th, 2014 at 6:31 am


    Thank you for your comparison. I just came across it on youtube. Do you know how simon says stamp inks compare? I’m just getting in to stamping and would like to buy a set or two to get my collection started.

    • wrote on May 28th, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Rachelle, they are very similar to the Hero Arts Shadow Inks. They are very juicy and I like them a lot.

  29. wrote on March 3rd, 2016 at 12:06 pm


    I only recently discovered this video (and indeed the realm of paper crafting) and I love all of your comparisons! I really am leaning toward the Stamping Up inks but I wondered if you have anything to say about the new Ranger Dye Inks and Lawn Fawn Dye inks and the fact that the colours in the lines seem very complimentary. Thanks

    • wrote on March 3rd, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Joyce. I haven’t tried the Lawn Fawn dye inks. I have tried the Ranger Dye ink in black only, and I was very impressed. See my black ink review here.

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