Chromatography is used to separate inks into the colors that make them up. Most inks are mixtures of colors and the ink will separate into bands of colors based on the size of the different ink molecules.The small particles move faster and will move further up the paper strip (in the photo black); the larger particles do not move as far (yellow). Some black inks are actually made up of blue red, pink, and yellow.
Pairs or groups of students received a strip of filter paper and made a pencil line about 3 cm from the end. They then traced over the pencil line with a marker, dipped the edge of the paper into water and waited. Over time the water will travel through the paper carrying the ink molecules with it. Smaller molecules are easier to carry and travel further.
Chromatography can be used to separate any mixtures with different size particles and actually gel electrophoresis used for DNA analysis works on a similar principle.