Paint Tool SAI Review

I’ve been hearing good things about Paint Tool SAI on DeviantArt for a while now, so I decided to get off my lazy ass and actually give it a try. I shall now proceed to enlighten you on this amazing program.

First off, Paint Tool SAI is on par with OpenCanvas (another amazing digital painting program) in terms of size and ease of use. Significantly smaller than our mainstream digital media program, Adobe Photoshop, SAI is only around 6 MB, enabling those less-endowed computer junkies to draw digitally without lagging the hell out of their computers. When I used to use Photoshop, any picture over the size of 5 x 6 in would render my brush strokes into choppy segments of fail, which made drawing on Photoshop not unlike watching a stop motion sequence of, well, me drawing. Which made me very sad. On the other hand, SAI has proven its capacity of handling A4 size pictures without missing a beat. Of course, SAI doesn’t boast the digital enhancement tools  found in Photoshop, but as it is aimed mainly at artists rather than photo manipulators and photographer, the tools and brushes it offers surpasses any other program of similar size.

Speaking of brushes, the sensitivity and customizability offered by SAI is pretty much unsurpassed. Their brushes have amazing sensitivity and would probably make any tablet user very very happy for at least a few hours (until they realize they actually have to sit their butt down and draw something for that to actually be significant. Yes, I’m talking from personal experience).  These brushes also let users incorporate textures into their strokes while at the same time simulating the feel of natural brushes.  For example, when red and blue and painted near each other, the border automatically becomes a mix of varying shades of purple, an effect that is still yet to be seen in Photoshop.

Another program some people might compare SAI to is Corel’s Painter X. While both programs simulate natural media, SAI surpasses Painter in terms of size and usability. As a former Painter user, I noticed that while their water color brush was quite similar to SAI in terms of blending and sensitivity, they seemed to insist that simulated natural media meant everything from paper grain to dry streaks. Consequently, most of the stuff drawn with Painter X had ugly water streaks (which I for the life of me could not find how to disable) and paper grains, making smooth coloring pretty much impossible. And in their effort to make the program as close to real media as possible, every time I closed the file to work on it at a later time, the pervious layers would “dry up”, rendering  any new layers as hideous PS burn effects. Seriously, if I wanted that much natural effect, I’d just have resorted to using real brushes *pout*. Back on topic, SAI’s brushes renders a lot smoother than Painter, and unlike the former, the pen tip shape actually changes depending on pressure. Consequently, users are able to transition from thin to thick in one stroke without having to manually adjust any settings.

SAI is now my new favorite coloring program (with OpenCanvas at a close second). While OpenCanvas is a pretty awesome program already (and free in older version!), it often desaturates colors when the blend tool is used, while SAI keeps everything nice and bright.  On a random note though, many users keep version 1 of OpenCanvas for its paint chat utility, so that is an option to keep in mind.

The official SAI has been released in Feb. 2008 and just recently, Systemax have launched an English version of their site. The program is free to try for 31 days (which you can check out here), after which the license will expire and you’ll need to purchase the full product for 60 USD. The price is quite reasonable considering the advantages that SAI provides, and if you’d like some more info before making a decision, check out SAI’s own wiki page for moar win.

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Ryan Matsunaga's picture

What's she saying?

pshhhhh. Awesomeness, foolio!

Bullshiddo's picture

Something not Japanese, of course. Here's a rough translation.

有人主張我的所有權  -  Someone's claiming my copyright
我可是一點都不會高興!!  -  I'm not the least bit happy about it!

Word balloon says: 別搞錯了!!  -  Don't kid yourself!

By Bullshiddo (not verified)
Website Review's picture

Im not sure though if your serious (about what she is saying), but irregardless this is a great post. On a side note I sure wish photoshop would switch to using graphic memory like pixelmator does, its so much faster than photoshop (but light weight of course)


Happy Holidays from Website Review

Moonlighta's picture

i really like this art program..but i dont have it ...
i really want it cuzz i dra alot and i would really love to haves this :D

where can i get it it do i have to buy it at an store or...donloade it onto my computer or ..what ??

By Moonlighta (not verified)

You can download a free trial here:

Official website:

Unofficial English pack:

Once the 30 days run out, they'll ask you to purchase a license (basically a serial code) and a pop-up will prompt you to enter it the next time you run the program. You can buy the license at the first link.

Guest's picture

Hi there!
A question of the price. Unless I missed out a part for the price. How much does it cost? low prices quick fizz detoxifying tablets ultra kleans power flushing capsules low prices

By Guest (not verified)
Guest's picture

I believe its around 54$ USD.

By Guest (not verified)
Guest's picture

By Guest (not verified)
Guest's picture

Hi! I'm a wannabe artist and I have a few questions about SAI. I downloaded the unofficial English packet and fell head over heels for this program! My 30-day trial period has come to an end and I desperately want to buy this program, but a few unanswered questions are keeping me from doing so...
1. Is the official version in English?

2. If not, is ther anyway for me to alter the program so it's in English?

3. Is there an OFFICIAL ENGLISH version available?

Thanks sooo much for your time!

By Guest (not verified)

I'm pretty sure the English version can be found here:

^^^It's the official website, and the installation file has "en" (for english) in it, so I'm assuming it's what you're looking for.

Hope that helps!

Web Design Company's picture

Thanks for the clear..


Darrell Vincent's picture


Thanks for sharing the review of this great tool...seems really interesting.


By Darrell Vincent (not verified)
Tony B's picture

 hey I like the above art.... Its very cool. Thanks for sharing the above Post


By Tony B (not verified)
Ilysesshy's picture

Oki, well im kinda a noob to this whole coloring online thing (i usually stick to color pencils lol) so you can upload an already drawn pic to this then color it using this program correct?

I'm just seeing if i got it right before I go downloading anything :D

By Ilysesshy (not verified)
Ryan Matsunaga's picture

That is correct I believe

Kitty Kat's picture

I have seen some online videos that have extra brushes, as in ones that I do not have even though I bought the liscense a few months ago. Do you have any idea why that is? Is there a place where you buy more brushes or something? I'm in total panic mode right now, please help! Cry

By Kitty Kat (not verified)
reginag's picture

Any form of paint is difficult at first. It's only with practice that you can improve your painting skills.

By reginag
Apple Tangerine's picture

Yes, I like SAI better than Photoshop <3 But the thing is....I've already downloaded the trial version, and I'm down to day 29. XD I need to find a serial, because this time I reaaaallly want to keep this program. Is there any way I can download ONLY the serial number/license?


~Apple Tangerine

By Apple Tangerine (not verified)
SAIGuest's picture

i need to work with 100cm canvas like 11000 pixels, but its doesnt work. how to setting it?

By SAIGuest (not verified)
opeter's picture

SAI has a maximum canvas size of 8000 x 8000 pixel.
For 10.000 x 10.000 you need OpenCanvas or even better, Corel Painter of Photoshop.

The best for big canvas is Photoshop, since the 64-bit version has almost no limitations.

By opeter (not verified)
arizona search engine optimization's picture

great discussion on paint tool sai. got a lot of tips. thanks.

Guest's picture

How do you make quick strokes?

Like, mines is just a simple line. Same width.

By Guest (not verified)
cris2per's picture

I want to purchase SAI but i want some honest reviews all good and bad points and how much does it cost in UK £'s? And also, i have an AIPTEK graphic tablet and i was wondering if that would work with it since i have problems with it not cutting PS 6.0 (although it came with it) thank you.

link building

By cris2per (not verified)
Harryadi Dwitanto's picture

yeah the title is my question :)

By Harryadi Dwitanto (not verified)
Guest's picture

I still keep version 1 of OpenCanvas for its paint chat utility, so that is an option to keep in mind : - vigilon.

By Guest (not verified)
tom11's picture

I still use and keep version 1 of OpenCanvas for its paint chat utility, so that is an option to keep in mind

By tom11
Aqua's picture

Thanks so much! I am deciding between Painter 12 and SAI, so this was very helpful to me!

By Aqua (not verified)
Guest's picture

By Guest (not verified)

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