Does Ink Fade Over Time?

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Ink has a wide range of applications from writing and drawing to printing and more.

It can be used on a lot of different surfaces as well like paper, fabric, wood, etc.

But does ink fade over time? Yes, no matter what kind of ink or on what kind of surface the ink was applied on, it will eventually fade over time.

What is the Difference Between Paint and Ink?

Finding the right type of ink to work with can be quite the task when it’s your first time exploring with this application.

Depending on the aesthetic of your project, knowing about what types of ink that is available and their characteristics are important.

There are a couple of differences between using paint and using ink.

Unlike paint, the ink just flows. When you dilute regular paints, you also dilute the color too, the opposite applies to ink.

When you apply water to ink the concentration of the pigment remains, there is no dilution and no loss of color.

Another difference between ink and paint is the way it is applied and dried.

For paint, it is applied as a liquid but dries as a solid. Paint is also more apt to be used for creating texture to a workspace.

Ink, on the contrary, can be both a paste and a liquid.

For example, thicker (paste based) inks are used primarily for stamping, letter pressing, and lithographic printing.

The thinner inks (liquid) are used for arts and crafts, signatures, and shading purposes.

There has been a growing shift from paint to ink because of ink’s versatility and changing demands in the print industry.

What Kind of Inks are There?

The demand for traditional prints are shrinking as time passes, this is due to the extensive use of inks for packaging purposes.

The following types of ink are two of the most widely used forms of ink in drawing, painting, and calligraphy.

These two types of inks produce high-quality results that are guaranteed to last with proper storage and care.

Indian Inks

Indian ink (also known as Chinese ink) is one of the oldest and traditional. India ink is primarily used for traditional art-making such as drawing, painting, and calligraphy.

India ink has many ends uses such as tattoos and even used for marking in the medical field.

Another fact about India ink is that it can be combined with other colors and other forms of media such as watercolors or oils. Once India ink fully cures, it is permanent and water-resistant.

There are many ways you can apply India ink you can apply this ink from the bottle, stick and stone; and using Chinese methods. Depending on your personal style you can create beautiful and simplistic images as well as complex, Avant-garde pieces.

Other characteristics of India ink include high light resistance, odor-free and PH neutral.

Another factor when using Indian ink is lightfastness and the type of paper that you are applying it to.

If you are applying it to paper or a board, it is always best to be certain that the paper you are applying it to provide a smooth and porous foundation. The following types of paper would be best suited for Indian ink.

Mixed Media Paper- Mixed Media paper is one of the more widely used forms of paper when drawing or painting.

Mixed media paper has both watercolor and drawing paper characteristics on each side.

Pending how much ink you will be using this type of paper, the characteristics of mixed media paper is ideal for the artist who needs the best of both worlds.

Illustration Boards- Illustration boards are for those who enjoy applying their inks to hard, smooth, sturdy surfaces.

Illustration Boards are recommended for comic book/graphic novel artists and storyboarding.

Watercolor Paper- Another widely used form of paper for both painters and drawers alike, watercolor paper gives you the freedom to use both graphite and ink simultaneously.

The thickness and high absorbance give way for adding texture, shading, and spreading ink seamlessly.

Lightfastness is one of the most important attributes to consider when using ink as an application.

Lightfastness is the amount of time a color fades when exposed to light. When Indian ink is exposed to large amounts of light, the molecular structure of the pigments in Indian will breakdown over time because of its mixture with water, especially when working with black inks.

Another aspect to consider with colorfastness with Indian ink is the amount of drying time you allow to your artwork.

The more time you allow the color pigments to bond to your surface, the lightfastness will also be prolonged.

Proper storage and handling also play a factor in getting the most out of your artwork. Indian ink does smudge and rubs off onto skin and clothing when it hasn’t been cured properly.

Upon completion of your work, it is highly recommended that you leave your work in a separate space to cure for at least 24 hours. Once that time has passed, you can roll it up tightly and store it in a metal box, flap envelope or crystal clear protectors.

Crystal clear protectors are ideal if you want to showcase the work without removing the protective closure. All ink drawings should be stored in a cool and dry space to protect both the ink and the paper.

Acrylic Ink

Acrylic ink is another widely used and a more modern approach to Indian ink. Unlike Indian ink, acrylic dries quicker and is both smudge-free and more water-resistant than Indian ink.

This type of ink is ideal for artists who are planning to have their work hung in a gallery or the art student who is pressed for time.

Acrylic has also been known to transition across other forms of mixed media due to its thicker consistency.

Acrylic inks carry deeper color lines than Indian ink; primarily due to the time span they each were created.

They are also available in different transparencies such as opaque, semi-transparent, and transparent.

Ranging opacity levels are great for artists who enjoy creating watercolor artwork or the artist who is looking to add dimension to their piece.

When using acrylic ink as an application; it is best used on stretched canvas, mixed media, Bristol and any other smooth and absorbent surface, including fabric.

Acrylic ink dries to a permanent high gloss shine when its water base has been completely evaporated.


Due to the consistency of acrylic ink and numerous color options, you can also use acrylic inks to write with a dip pen.

The smooth and fluid texture of acrylic makes it easier to create gradients on paper; making this type of ink an excellent choice for calligraphy artists.

Versatility is important when working with inks and paints alike. Did you know that acrylic paint can act as a watercolor when applied to a wet surface?

To create these watercolor effects simply dampen the surface you are going to apply the ink to and add drops of ink to create your desired effect.

Pouring mediums are commonly used when working with acrylic ink. A pouring medium is a liquid mixture that you use with other inks to make the inks pourable to the surface that you are using.

To properly mix your pouring medium with acrylic paint you will need to mix one tablespoon of ink to one cup of pouring medium; using a pallete knife blend slowly and let the mixture sit for about ten minutes.


After you have properly created your mixture, add it to a squeeze or spray bottle using a funnel.

A using a funnel will keep the pouring mixture from spilling out.

When acrylic paintings are handled and stored properly, they will maintain their true high pigmented color for decades.

The best ways to preserve an acrylic painting is through climate control and to NOT stack paintings on top of each other.

Stacking acrylic paintings, especially face to face, will cause them to stick to each other and cause possible damage to the artwork.

The fact about using inks as an application is that most of them will eventually fade as time passes.

The best suggestion to prolonging this is using durable materials, proper handling, and storage.

Finding the right inks to use in your work can be quite the task on your first time, through learning and practice you will become an expert in no time.

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