Pigment Ink vs Dye Ink: Know Actual Difference Between Them

Today, the most used inks are dye and pigment. These inks are water-based and can be used for a variety of purposes, including photography, artwork, billboards, etc.

It is important to know which one between pigment ink and dye works best, despite the fact that they are similar.

We will explain everything here. You’ll learn which option works better for your needs and how you can pick the ideal one accordingly. You want to learn more about dye inks or pigments inks? Then keep reading!

What is Dye Ink and How Does It Work?

A dye is a colorant. When someone refers to dye-based inks, they’re talking about a colorant dissolved in a liquid. This liquid is usually water. It can be water, but alcohol or other chemical products are also available to improve durability and ease of use.

Many dye inks offer excellent visual results and a wide palette of colors. However, they’re known for somewhat weak against exterior factors.

To make dye-based inks easy to understand, you could say they’re like saltwater. Salt dissolves in water and goes with it wherever it goes. The dye ink will be affected by whatever happens to the water.

The benefits of using it

  • Beautiful color quality
  • Easy to spread and paint
  • It’s affordable and easy to find
  • Adheres to almost every surface


  • Fades quickly
  • Resistant to external influences

What is Pigment Ink?

Pigment-based inks use very small particles of colorant that float in liquid (water, alcohol etc.). This liquid eventually gets absorbed into the paper and other surfaces, but the pigments don’t. They adhere to the fibers and stay on the surface.

This allows pigment inks for extreme resistance and exceptional durability. However, they can be somewhat dull in color.

To get a better idea of their workings, you can think of pigmentink as fruit juice. The liquid will be absorbed by the ink, but the small particles of fruit will remain on the surface. This gives pigment inks a long-term advantage. This is pigment ink printer post Provides additional information for users of pigment ink.

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The benefits of using it

  • Resistant against most external factors
  • Can last for decades in paper
  • Doesn’t fade out over time
  • Don’t let the surface dry before adhering to it


  • Sometimes color can seem a little dull
  • Pretty expensive & difficult to find

The Differences between Dye Inks and Pigment Inks 

Now that you have a neat idea of what each type of ink offers, let’s now go into the deep territory and explain the different factors that truly set them apart.

Color Quality

It all comes down to the quality of the printed material. traces, you’ll find that dye-based inks perform amazingly well.

Dye inks excel in colors that heavily rely on color quality due to their vibrancy and brightness. Dye inks have a wider selection of colors than other options, providing enough shades to handle even the most complex jobs.

At the same time, dye inks don’t have what’s called “metamerism.” This effect usually occurs on pigment inks, and it doesn’t happen on dye-based inks. It changes the color appearance according to the light. Pigment inks will change the color appearance of the dye, but it will remain the same.

Having said this, while pigment inks are not as bright or vibrant and don’t hold color the same way against the light, they’re still decent. Today’s pigment inks have an extremely low level of metamerism which means they can handle most jobs without any problems.

However, dye inks still win when it is about the quality of the print/trace.


When it comes to durability and resilience, you’ll find that dye-based inks are not the best. The dye doesn’t stick to the fibers, but is absorbed by them. When they get absorbed, they’re more likely to break down whenever the paper breaks down, which leads to fading and smudging.

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Dye inks are also less resistant to ultraviolet rays than water. The sun’s rays and moisture can cause dye inks to lose color and blurred. So they may completely mess up entire projects, especially if they’re in regular paper print or canvas.

In contrast, pigment inks are more stable on paper and other surfaces. Because they don’t get absorbed but instead adhere to the surface, they can withstand different factors that may affect the paper but not the ink.

You’re likely to find these pigment inks much more resilient against sun rays and water as well. They can withstand most external factors and will be more durable than dye-inks. Even though they are less vivid, pigment inks can last longer than dye-inks.

The difference is amazing after 10 to 50 year. In some cases, the pigment can last up to 200years.

After 10 years, dye inks begin to fade. The ink may look different after 50 years. It may lose some of its vibrancy, and it may be duller. We can conclude that pigment inks last longer and are more resistant.


What can I do with a dye that is less resilient? You can do many things with dye inks.

Among them, you’ll find that they work ideal for temporary projects that don’t require them to last much. Examples include business cards, portfolios and presentations.

Photography paper is the best way to use dye inks. Because this paper is especially sturdy and resilient, there’s a high chance for the print to last longer than average. They also hold the color better than regular paper because they look so much better.

Then you’ll find pigment inks. The best thing about pigment inks is their ability to stick to almost any paper and any finish. You can find them ideal for surfaces where dye-based inks wouldn’t work, like plastics and metals.

However, most pigment inks are used for archiving as they can retain the color better over time. External (outdoor) use must not be disturbed for too long. That’s why pigments are part of what makes wall paint so useful.

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In a few words: Dye inks are best for temporary jobs, while pigment inks are better for things that will last.


When it comes to overall costs, you’ll find that they also have vast differences. Dye inks are a great example. You may not even need to think twice before purchasing a complete palette. Because they’re water-based most of the time, the majority of commercial dye inks are super cheap.

Pigment is, on the contrary, much more expensive. This is because pigment is more difficult to make and also because it requires more expensive components. The pigments are difficult to obtain and require specific preparation.

This makes dye inks ideal for budget-conscious situations. It also makes pigment affordable when money is not an issue.

Pigment Ink or Dye Ink? Which One Should You Choose?

After reading this comparison, you’re probably wondering which one to go for. You may not be able to make a decision. Don’t worry – we can help you out With that.

We can safely say that if you’re working on a small project that doesn’t need to last long, but you still want it to look superb, dye inks would be your best bet. And they’re cheap.

But if you prefer something more long-lasting that holds the color for years and can withstand different factors such as moisture & sun rays – then pigment ink is your best bet. Just be aware that they’re somewhat expensive.

What are you going to choose? Both are great for their respective purposes. Follow this guide to find the best one for you.

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