Top

Test | Best Ink Pad for a Bullet Journal or Planner

2017 is coming fast – where did 2016 go? Like many people, the new year coming means I’ve been working on setting up a new planner. You’ll be reading about my new bullet journal blog planner soon, but before I could finish it I had a lot of stamping to do. So I decided to do a test to see what was the best ink pad for a bullet journal or planner!

[Some links in this article are advertiser courtesy links or affiliate links that pay a commission when product is purchased after clicking.]

black-ink-pads

In my search to find the best ink pad for my planner, I tested black inks in a wide range of types from Ranger and ColorBox:

Ranger Archival Ink in Jet Black – Scrapbook.com, A Cherry On Top, Amazon.com

ColorBox Archival Dye Ink in Wicked Black – Scrapbook.com, Amazon.com

ColorBox Fluid Chalk in Blackbird – Amazon.com

Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Black Soot – Scrapbook.com, A Cherry On Top, Amazon.com

ColorBox Pigment in Black – Amazon.com

Since all of the tested inks were black, that eliminated differences in the stamping test results from different color tones.

I also decided to test my favorite watercolor palette, the Sakura Koi 24 color Field Sketch Set, since watercolors are another way to add color to a bullet journal and I’m doing some color coding of headers.

Sakura Watercolors

To test the inks to find the best ink pad for a bullet journal, I just turned the last page of my new blog planner into a sample page. My new planner is a Moleskine Hardcover Classic Extra Large Squared journal. I stamped the ink samples onto the page with the new Hero Arts Calendar Pieces stamp set that I’m using to create my blog planner’s calendar pages.

At the bottom of the ink test, I did a couple swatches of watercolor to see how it would perform on my journal’s paper. I also stamped the winning ink from the tests at the top of the page on one of the watercolor swatches to see how they would layer.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal-test

From the front, all of the inks gave acceptable results. But what about the back? Bleed through to the reverse of the page is a big concern with stamping inks when you are using both sides of a text weight paper page.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal-test-2

The results from the back of the page were much more definitive than from the front. The top ink on the page, Tim Holtz Distress, bled through the page much less than the other inks. When stamped on top of the watercolor at the bottom of the page, it was barely visible from the back of the page.

The page also stood up well to the light application of watercolor – from the reverse of the page you can see that some slight wrinkling is evident but not enough to make the paper unusable for writing on. The watercolor showed through the paper only as a slight shadow. Compared to the more definite markings of the stamped inks, this makes it a good option for color coding headings and other items.

Below, in actual use, the difference between the inks becomes very apparent. The month/year header is in a bright blue ColorBox pigment ink, which is my go to ink when I want nice juicy color. But on this paper, the bleed through is very distinct, making it not a good choice for this application.

The Sunday and Monday headings on the top right of the page are in black ColorBox Fluid Chalk. Again, this is one of my favorite inks for when I want a nice matte finish look – but in this application it gives terrible bleed through.

The Tuesday and Wednesday headings in the upper left, along with the numbers on the calendar grid, are in black Distress ink. The difference in bleed through is quite apparent – a shadow versus the distinct, readable marks of the other two inks. The back side of this page is not perfect where those inks were stamped, but it is most definitely usable.

ink-pad-for-bullet-journal

So the clear winner of best ink pad for a bullet journal or planner appears to be Tim Holtz Distress ink based on my tests in my Moleskine journal. The Moleskine’s pages are quite thin compared to many planner calendars, so the ink should perform even better in many of today’s most popular planners.

The Tim Holtz Distress inks have another feature (besides low bleed through) that makes them perfect for use in journals and planners: portability. The entire Distress palette of inks is available in 1.25″ square Mini ink pads [available ACOT, Scrapbook.com, Amazon], a very practical size for using with most planner stamps. And they can be re-inked with Distress re-inkers!

Some other inks are available in mini pads, but the Distress Minis have a secret weapon that makes them extra portable.  The affordable Distress Mini tin case [available ACOT, Scrapbook.com, Amazon] is available that securely carries a dozen of the Distress Minis – enough to keep you supplied for almost any planner project.

tim-holtz-distress-mini-storage-tin

I’m assembling myself a custom color palette in my Mini Distress Ink Storage tin that will work for the color coding that I am planning for my planner. To do this, I’ve started by purchasing two of the Distress Mini four packs: Kit #1 and Kit #14. The other four colors (black, red, purple, and probably another green) will be filled in individually, since the Distress Mini Ink Pads are now available open stock. With all of those colors, I will have a full rainbow color palette, plus black, brown and gray, for versatile planning!

tim-holtz-distress-mini-colors

What ink do you use in your planner? What do you like about it?

The following two tabs change content below.

, , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to Test | Best Ink Pad for a Bullet Journal or Planner

  1. Ginny December 8, 2016 at 5:40 am #

    This is REALLY helpful. Thank you very much for all of the information, the tips, and the purchasing information.

    • Nancy Nally December 8, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      You’re welcome Ginny!

  2. Rita Harris December 8, 2016 at 7:45 am #

    I found this helpful, but what about prima chalk, prima dye, or prima pigment. Are pigments too heavy and chalk too light. Just thinking.

    • Nancy Nally December 8, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      It wasn’t possible to test every brand but I would expect the Prima brand of those types of inks to perform similar to the ColorBox brand of them that I tested. Different types of inks have different properties that are inherent even when you cross brands. For instance, a good pigment ink is going to be very juicy (wet), no matter the brand – which is what causes bleed through and thus makes it undesirable for this use.

      I would be curious to compare them. If I get my hands on them I will post the results as an update.

  3. Ann in PA December 8, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Thanks so much for this test. About to begin stamping my new planner. Perfect timing!

    • Nancy Nally December 8, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      Glad I could help, Ann!

  4. Pauline Clark December 8, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    Wow. That was interesting. I fully expected the Distress inks to be too light, not crisp enough but it looks great. I’d love to know what types of stamps you’re using. Great psot. Thanks.

    • Nancy Nally December 8, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      Thanks Pauline! The stamps that I was stamping with are from a clear stamp set by Hero Arts. They are linked at the beginning of the article. It’s a set with date numbers, days of the week, months and a few symbols that are perfect for bullet journalers.