How to Apply Ink to a Rubber Stamp

Apply ink to rubber stamps
It sounds easy, however applying ink correctly to rubber stamps is what will give you great results Getty Images: Catherine Lane

If you are just starting rubber stamping you may well be faced with some less than perfect stamped images. One of the keys to making successful rubber stamped images is ensuring that the rubber stamp is evenly coated with ink. This sounds like a simple task, however over and under inking, blocked recesses and other problems are all challenges that face novice stampers.

There are a few basic principles to follow that will help ensure perfect stamped images every time.

How To Ink a Stamp That is Bigger Than the Ink Pad:

Lay the stamp onto a flat surface and tap the ink pad repeatedly over the surface of the rubber stamp. It is important to apply gentle pressure, too much pressure will result in inky or uneven images.

How To Ink a Stamp That is Smaller Than the Ink Pad:

Small rubber stamps can be inked by gently tapping the stamp onto the ink pad. Several small, gentle taps are better than pressing the stamp into the pad. This might risk over inking the stamp.

How To Ink a Large Outline Image Stamp:

If a large outline stamp has lots of open areas within the design, it is important not to get ink into the open areas which might result in spoiling the finished stamped image. It is possible to clean the ink from the open areas using a cotton bud or corner of a cloth. It is better, however, not to get ink into these areas to start. The best way to ink a large outline stamp is to take an ink pad and tap it around the lines of the stamp. Angling the ink pad slightly will help to direct the ink.

How to Use Multi-Color Ink Pads:

Multi-color or rainbow ink pads can give beautiful stamped images, the different colors giving gentle colored stripes. Although this is fairly straightforward, and the same process as detailed above, it is important to carefully place the stamp. This will help to ensure that the inks in the ink pad do not run in to each other, which might result in spoiling the ink pad.

How to Use a Brayer:

A brayer is helpful to ink large stamps quickly and easily. The brayer is coated in ink and then rolled over the upturned image of a rubber stamp. In order to give a good even coating of ink on the stamp, it is necessary to ensure that ink is spread on the brayer evenly.

Problems Caused by Incorrect Inking:

  • Uneven inking will result in uneven images. It is important to have evenly inked stamp to create an even stamped image.
  • Stamps that are over inked will give blobby images. Repeatedly tap an over inked stamp on scrap paper to clean. If stamps are very over inked, particularly with pigment inks, it might be better to wash the stamp and start again.
  • Inked recesses will give unclear images. Care needs to be taken, when inking stamps with intricate designs, not to get ink into the recesses.


  • Work in good light and turn the stamp towards the light to check that the entire stamp is covered.
  • Gently breathing on an inked pad will provide just enough moisture to revive dried ink.
  • Remember to clean your stamps well after use to ensure good crisp results every time.

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