Ink is the main projectile used in the Splatoon series as well as a means of navigation. It comes in a variety of team-based colors that are randomized with each battle. Walls and ground alike can be covered with ink, but it goes through grates and cannot be applied to ink-resistant surfaces such as glass, mats, and the inflatable barriers present in some stages. It allows players a degree of stealthiness, as Inklings and Octolings in squid and octopus form can hide in their ink and ambush enemies. The signature ink colors are orange and blue in Splatoon, green and pink in Splatoon 2, and yellow and purple for Splatoon 3.
Ink can be used in a variety of ways, including as a projectile. Being hit by enemy ink causes players to take damage and become visible to their opponents on the map. After taking enough damage, players are splatted and eventually respawn. When attempting to swim or walk through enemy ink, Inklings and Octolings take damage, though this alone cannot splat them. Their movements also become very slow, and if they are in squid or octopus form, they are forced back into humanoid form. Equipping gear with the Ink Resistance Up ability helps to reduce the effects of being in enemy ink, and, in Splatoon, Defense Up can be used to reduce damage taken from being hit by it.
Ink can also be fired at various inkable surfaces and other characters. Once a surface is coated in ink, players can swim through it, allowing them to move more quickly and climb up walls. When staying still in their ink, players can hide and ambush enemies, and when moving they only create small ripples. Equipping gear with the Ninja Squid ability hides these ripples, further improving the wearer's ability to move undetected.
In Splatoon 2, improved graphics were added to ink, including better shading, brightness, and sharpness. Also, trails can now be seen in ink where players swam.
Main weapons and sub weapons both require ink, with the specific amount needed varying between different weapons. Ink requirements can be reduced by equipping the Ink Saver (Main), Ink Saver (Sub), Last-Ditch Effort, and Comeback abilities. If players do not have enough ink to use a weapon, they are warned of it and their ink tank flashes with a large red "X". Ink slowly refills automatically, but swimming in one's ink refills it much faster. Ink Recovery Up increases the speed at which ink is regained.
Some devices allow ink to be used in even more ways. Inkrails and Ride rails exist for transportation, as Inklings and Octolings in squid and octopus form can use them to get to otherwise inaccessible areas. Sponges expand for use as a platform when hit by the player's ink and shrink when hit by that of an opponent. Splat-Switches, when covered with ink, cause objects to move. Ink can also be used to spin propellers, which power the movement of various platforms. Finally, Balloon Fish can be popped with ink to create an explosion much in the manner of player bombs.
Neutral color values are used for objects such as barriers and the Squid Bumpers in the Shooting Range and can help with identifying a set. However, some sets seem to use different values for some objects.
Ink color names come from what they are called in Splatoon's files. Some names do not match the visible color; the reason for this is unknown.
Color sets used in-game include the following:[Note]
- Pink vs. Green ( Neutral)
- Pink vs. Turquoise ( Neutral)
- Pink vs. Orange ( Neutral)
- Orange vs. Blue ( Neutral)
- Green vs. Purple ( Neutral)
- Turquoise vs. Orange ( Neutral)
- [Note] ( Neutral) Light Blue vs. Orange
- Light Blue vs. Yellow ( Neutral) (unused)
- [Note] vs. Orange ( Neutral) Blue
- Blue vs. Lime ( Neutral)
- Yellow vs. Lilac ( Neutral)
- [Note] ( Neutral) Green vs. Magenta
- Lumigreen vs. Purple ( Neutral)
- Light Green vs. Blue ( Neutral)
- [Note] ( Neutral) Soda vs. Purple
- Green vs. Orange ( Neutral)
- [Note] ( Neutral) Dark Blue vs. Yellow
- [Note] ( Neutral) Orange vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Night Marigold vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Marigold vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] vs. Dark Fuchsia[Note] ( Neutral) Yellow
- [Note] vs. Dark Fuchsia[Note] ( Neutral) Green
- [Note] ( Neutral) Green vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) LumiGreen vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Night LumiGreen vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] vs. Dark Fuchsia[Note] ( Neutral) MothGreen
- [Note] ( Neutral) Soda vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Turquoise vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Lilac vs. Dark Fuchsia
- [Note] ( Neutral) Dark Blue vs. Dark Fuchsia
- Pokémon Red vs. Pokémon Blue
- Pokémon Red vs. Pokémon Green
- Go all out! vs. Focus on healing
- Barbarian vs. Ninja
- Naughty vs. Nice
- Marshmallows vs. Hot Dogs ( Neutral)
- Autobots vs. Decepticons
- Cats vs. Dogs
- Messy vs. Tidy
- Lemon Tea vs. Milk Tea
- SpongeBob vs. Patrick
- Roller Coasters vs Water Slides
- World Tour vs. Space Adventure
- Pirates vs. Ninjas
- Perfect Body vs. Perfect Brain
- Tuna Mayonnaise Onigiri vs. Red Salmon Onigiri
- Snowmen vs. Sandcastles
- Past vs. Future
- Hoverboard vs. Jet Pack
- North Pole vs. South Pole ( Neutral)
- Callie vs. Marie
- [Note] vs. Dark Fuchsia[Note] ( Neutral) Yellow
- [Note] vs. Orange ( Neutral) Blue
- [Note] ( Neutral) Dark Fuchsia
- Lemon vs. Plum
- Light Pink vs. Blue
- Raspberry vs. Neon Yellow
- Grape vs. Turquoise
- Pink vs. Light Blue
- Dark Purple vs. Orange
- Neon Pink vs. Neon Green
- Sky vs. Gold (unused)
- Slimy Green vs. Grape ( Neutral)
- Winter Green vs. Dark Magenta ( Neutral)
- Turquoise vs. Pumpkin ( Neutral)
- Mustard vs. Purple ( Neutral)
- Blue vs. Green ( Neutral)
- Rich Purple vs. Green Apple ( Neutral)
- Yellow vs. True Blue ( Neutral)
When modes of Ranked Battle are played in Private Battle the order of the ink colors for the teams are predetermined with the order above, Alpha vs. Bravo teams.
A note about ink in Octo Canyon is that it contains glitter, which is mostly unique to this mode. The only other time this was seen was during the Frosty Fest. Ink in the Final Fest used a unique matte glittery texture.
- [Note] vs. Fuchsia ( Neutral) Yellow
- [Note] vs. Fuchsia ( Neutral) Green
- [Note] vs. Fuchsia ( Neutral) Light Blue
Three Splatfest Ink sets use special textures, Fam vs. Friend using the same sparkly effect that can be seen in Hero Mode, Trick vs. Treat using a more matte texture, and Chaos vs. Order using a unique metallic texture.
- Mayo vs. Ketchup ( Neutral)
- Flight vs. Invisibility ( Neutral)
- Fries vs. McNuggets ( Neutral)
- Front Roll vs. Back Roll ( Neutral)
- Vampire vs. Werewolf ( Neutral)
- Agility vs. Endurance ( Neutral)
- Warm Breakfast vs. Cold Breakfast ( Neutral)
- Lemon vs. Without Lemon ( Neutral)
- Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy ( Neutral)
- Film vs. Book ( Neutral)
- Warm Inner Wear vs. Warm Outer Wear ( Neutral)
- Sweater vs. Socks ( Neutral)
- Action vs. Comedy ( Neutral)
- Champion vs. Challenger ( Neutral)
- Gherk-OUT vs. Gherk-IN ( Neutral)
- Money vs. Love ( Neutral)
- Flower vs. Dumpling ( Neutral)
- Chicken vs. Egg ( Neutral)
- Latest Model vs. Popular Model ( Neutral)
- Salty vs. Sweet ( Neutral)
- Baseball vs. Soccer ( Neutral)
- Unknown Creature vs. Advanced Technology ( Neutral)
- Pulp vs. No Pulp ( Neutral)
- Squid vs. Octopus ( Neutral)
- Mushroom Mountain vs. Bamboo Shoot Village ( Neutral)
- Adventure vs. Relax ( Neutral)
- Fork vs. Spoon ( Neutral)
- Retro vs. Modern ( Neutral)
- Tsubuan vs. Koshian ( Neutral)
- Trick vs. Treat ( Neutral)
- Pocky Chocolate vs. Pocky: Gokuboso ( Neutral)
- Salsa vs. Guac ( Neutral)
- Eat It vs. Save It ( Neutral)
- Hero vs. Villain ( Neutral)
- Fam vs. Friend ( Neutral)
- Boke vs. Tsukkomi ( Neutral)
- Pancake vs. Waffle ( Neutral)
- Knight vs. Wizard ( Neutral)
- Hare vs. Tortoise ( Neutral)
- Ce vs. Pa ( Neutral)
- Time Travel vs. Teleporation ( Neutral)
- Unicorn vs. Narwhal ( Neutral)
- Without Pineapple vs. With Pineapple ( Neutral)
- Kid vs. Grown Up ( Neutral)
- Chaos vs. Order ( Neutral)
- Super Mushroom vs. Super Star ( Neutral)
- [Note] Golden Yellow vs. Eelectric Blue
Salmonid Ink has a slime-like texture to it, where reflections have very little diffusion and there is a faint glow on the outer edge.
- Orange vs. Neon Green
- [Note] Blue vs. Neon Green
- Pink vs. Neon Green
The battle against Inner Agent 3 uses a different selection of ink colors than the rest of Octo Expansion, seemingly referencing the primary ink colors of Splatoon.
- Blue vs. Orange
Unlike other ink, the Sanitized ink has a wavy effect.
- [Note] Pink vs. Turquoise ( Neutral)
- Peach vs. Turquoise ( Neutral)
- Grape vs. Turquoise ( Neutral)
- According to Sunken Scroll 7 of Splatoon and Callie and Marie, ink vanishes after every match. It was later confirmed with Sunken Scroll 14 in Splatoon 2 that the cause of this is airborne microbes that consume the ink after a game.
- While swimming, small bits of ink come off an Inkling or Octoling's squid or octopus form. This is likely because the squid and octopus forms are mainly used to submerge in ink.
- During an Off The Hook concert, it was revealed what it looks like when Inklings and Octolings change ink colors: their 'hair' and any gear that changes due to ink color turns white, then fades to another color. This is the only time this was seen and it was not present in-game.
- Marie has her own type of ink, low-tide ink. Little is known about this type of ink, except for the fact that it can help cure Octarian brainwashing and it stuns instead of splats.
- In Splatoon, it is possible to see a slight tint of a different ink color towards the ends of Inklings' tentacles, though it is hard to see on some color sets. This detail was removed in Splatoon 2, but appears to have returned in Splatoon 3 for both Inklings and Octolings.
Several ink colors and combinations, as shown in Sunken Scroll 7
Blackbelly Skatepark coated in orange and blue ink
Old version of Camp Triggerfish covered in pink and teal ink
Octo Valley ink
Color locked ink
Names in other languages