Sunday, August 29, 2010

SAI: Free Sketch Program

Ok, guys, this is my first blog post, and it's going to be about a little hidden jewel known as SAI.

It's a free sketching/painting program straight out of Japan and is comparable to Photoshop.
Download at:

Ok, I'll just say it right now, if you don't own a tablet laptop, this program isn't really for you, but it's interesting nonetheless.

When you open your newly install SAI, you'll have to open a new canvas by clicking new.
Set the dimensions to whatever you want, but for the sake of quality and for consistency, I usually put it to 1000x1000, or 1400x1400.

First off, when sketching, you mostly don't want to create a background. Usually sketching stuff doesn't require a background at all, just a white backing, so it's only more complex pieces that you might want to add a background, and keep in mind that you can always come back later and add a background.

If you've made a background, it's time to start a new layer and start your sketching!
Lock the background, hide it if you want, pick up tour pen tool, pick a non-inking color (like blue or green; NOT BLACK) and turn the density WAAAY down to like the 13-20 range.
Now, just sketch the outline of whatever it is you're drawing, don't worry about making a sloppy mess, you'll clean it up later!

Now, add a new layer and leave the sketching layer visible, you'll be resketching it with a darker color now and a higher density and maybe a higher thickness (Black at 70-100 density; just turn up the thickness SLIGHTLY).
This step is pretty much the same as the last, but this time, you'll want to try to be more controlled in your sketching.
Go back over the other sketching, and thicken things.
WHEN YOU FINISH THIS STEP, grab that eraser and clean up the edges. Erase stray lines, shorten some strokes, just do house housecleaning, etc. etc.
Play around with the density levels of the eraser to give some edges a subtle faded look to them.

Detailing and Onwards:
Congratulations, you're done sketching, and you're almost 10% done!
That's right, but don't be overwhelmed, you've only laid the groundwork for your masterpiece.

Start with FLAT COLORS.

And then go back for shading and highlighting and blending colors.

From here on out, you'll be coloring, and simply playing around with colors, so start a new layer (and add more as you go along, MANY MORE, maybe a separate layer for for each color? Location of each color?) and begin experimenting with blending colors, highlights, tinting, etc; just play around, practice, and read some tutorials.

With time, devotion, and practice, you'll become a very skilled SAI artist.

Some Links, as promised:

Anything from:
Especially these two:


  1. Thanks for the SAI protip! I've been a photoshooper for quite some time and this program is great as well!

  2. I'll follow and learn more! Please comment and follow me also

  3. thats a nice program

  4. A program similar to photoshop! Looks awesome.

    Check out my blog if you'd like!