PaintTool SAI

Software that allows you to add paint colors to images


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  • Category Graphics Editors
  • Program license Trial version
  • Version 1.2.5
  • Size 2.47 MB
  • Works under: Windows 10
  • Program available in English
  • Program by Systemax

Paint Tool SAI, also known simply as SAI, is a creative software for Microsoft Windows (98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10) that was developed by SYSTEMAX Software. It is a very powerful graphics editor and painting software while remaining surprisingly lightweight, clocking in at around 2MB. This program was initially developed for Japanese users but an official English translation patch has come out in recent years.

Once users open SAI, the first thing that can be noticed is that this program allows for multiple documents to be opened simultaneously. This is beneficial to those who seek to use this program for graphics editing, as assets can be moved between documents. Graphics editors are able to zoom and rotate the drawing canvas easily using sliders that can be configured to the keyboard easily. One of the more interesting features is the ability to mirror the drawing board with the click of a button. By doing so, one can immediately notice errors in perspective and composition. Another interesting aspect is the application-wide scratchpad which digital painters use as a color mixing panel. This effectively becomes like a paint palette that can be utilized from document to document. Swatches can be utilized to store preferred colors.

There are a number of raster drawing tools that are available in Paint Tool SAI. These tools include, but are not limited to, Airbrush, Marker, Watercolor, and Pen. All of these tools are easily customized for individualized tastes. In addition to the raster tools, this program also includes a number of tools for vector art that are equally able to be customized. This program utilizes multiple layers in order to adjust graphics or digitally paint. These layers can be grouped and the opacity can be altered or masked. The use of multiple layers allows for a simplistic method of adding shadings or highlights without potentially damaging other aspects of the graphic.

Digital artists will appreciate the fact that this program has a pen movement and pressure smoothing feature. This feature can be configured to individual preferences. To assist in digital art creation, there are numerous selection options including the lasso tool and the magic wand, all of which can be adjusted to account for anti-aliasing. There are a wide variety of transformation tools that can be used once the selection tools have been implemented. The transformation tools include Move, Rotate, Resize, and a Perspective Transform tool. To minimize the softening of images, the different transformation tools can be selected and then applied all at once. The only big problem with the usage of the transformation tools, is that implementing them is unlike in other programs and there is scant English documentation to help new users.

Paint Tool SAI concentrates on being a good drawing and painting software. As a result, many common tools that can be found in other software are conspicuously missing from Paint Tool SAI. Painters who are looking for text layers, shape tools, or gradients will be out of luck when working in SAI. The best way to use this program is to do the editing or painting natively and then export the document out to another program for final composition work. The biggest feature that is missing from SAI is the ability to print. Documents can only be exported out as a range of popular file types such as .PSD, .JPG, and .SAI.

This program is definitely a strong painting program than a image editing program. There are, however, some tools included for basic editing such as Brightness/Contrast and Hue/Saturation. There are no advanced features such as channel extraction or level editing. A secondary program would be necessary for this type of work as well. In exchange of these advanced image editing tools, Paint Tool SAI includes line work layers. These unique layers are utilized by illustrators of all kinds and includes many specialized tools such as Line, Edit, Pressure, and Weight Tool.

Paint Tool SAI is a free program and unfortunately has many issues that come with being available for free. For instance, the SYSTEMAX website provides very little information on program usage. Luckily, the program does provide some on-board documentation on certain tools. It is important to know that some tools are woefully unexplained, even in the documentation. Luckily, there is a large community of artists of varying skill levels that all use Paint Tool SAI. The best way to learn about the different tools available is to tap into this unofficial community.


  • This program is available for free.
  • There is a large community of users.
  • This program is geared towards illustrators and painters.


  • Very little support from the developer.
  • Few image editing tools.
  • No native printing option.
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