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My first ever attempt in Paint Tool SAI


akita-ken
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As some might know, I'm primarily a vector artist and do my stuff in Illustrator, but I've expressed my interest in learning how to draw in raster on more than one occasion. I've heard a lot of good things about Paint Tool SAI so naturally I went for that first, add to the fact that from playing around with it a couple of times I found it to be much more 'drawing-oriented' than Photoshop. (Not to say that Ps is a bad tool for drawing, the learning curve is just much higher)

 

First thoughts:

(Okay I'll put this in a spoiler cuz I've begun my essay mode :P)

 

 

 

- It's way more difficult to draw in raster as compared to vector. 

If I'm drawing vector, for simple OCs with no background and a pose from a reference picture taken from the show, I usually take about an hour or two to draw the lineart and and then another hour or two to ink in the fills. For this picture it took me a good entire day plus a couple of hours to add the finishing touches.

 

- You definitely need to do a sketch first before importing it into SAI and drawing over it.

I've drawn enough ponies in vector to be able to freehand most of the time in Illustrator, but I found it close to impossible to do this in SAI. The fact that I did not have the freedom to go back and delete or edit lines after drawing them meant that I needed to have something to refer very closely to in order to get clean lines. I did have quite a bit of experience with pencil and paper before getting into vector art about a year ago, so getting down a very rough sketch on a piece paper took little more than half an hour to do, which I promptly took a photo of (you don't really need the quality of a scan for reference) and imported into SAI.

 

Turn that stabilizer on!!!

One of the features that has impressed me the most in SAI is the pen stabilizer. SAI has extremely good support for tablets (especially Wacom ones) and usage of the stabilizer is key to making smooth, clean and curvy lines with your tablet pen. The pressure sensitivity translation to the various tools was also spot on. Many times I could almost believe that I was holding an actual paintbrush in my hand!

 

- SAI has quite a bit of vector-capability despite it being a raster art program!

Another thing that pleasantly surprised me was the discovery that SAI had something called "Lineart" layers, which swaps the standard toolset for a specialized one where the pen behaves, for all intents and purposes, like a vector art pen! You can't select individual lines on the same layer and move them about or delete them, but you can make SAI show the vector points and move them about to tweak the line!

 

- SAI files are extemely big, and tend to grow quickly

What I found interesting was that for a raster art program, the *.sai files that it generates tend to grow very quickly as you draw, and this starts to make the program freeze up for short moments especially when saving. I have a feeling that SAI saves a whole lot more data in the file than apparent. For example, I was able to Ctrl+Z my way back to a point almost 15 minutes ago! (!!!) Some of the lineart layers probably also take up a lot of space due to the number of vector points in the lines. At the end, my filesize swelled to 140MB for a single A4 sized image. In comparison, the 'It's about time!' 4-panel comic I did a few months back was only 600KB by the time I was done with it.

 

- You definitely get a whole lot more control drawing in raster than in vector

There is a different *feel* about the artstyle. What do I mean by that? Well, SAI has quite an extensive array of drawing instruments in the standard toolset, and they're implemented quite well too. The brush, marker, pen and water-colour tools let you have a *lot* of control with regards to shading and styling and such. Something that would be very difficult to replicate in vector because colour fills are considered 'objects' in a program like Illustrator. You can't just overlap them and get a nice gradient like the way you can do with markers in SAI.

 

- You gotta use the layers, and lots of them

Back in Illustrator, I would only place certain things on different layers only if I had to, such as when I needed an object or hoof to overlap something else. Either that or when I drew things with a lot of different elements (such as my avatar pic). In SAI (or any other raster art program for that matter) however, if you don't wish to have to go back and erase an entire pony just because a certain limb was drawn badly or something, you gotta use layers, and *lots* of them. Really, every single element of each pony had it's own layer.. I think I had close to 60 by the time I was done.. (Prism Left Hoof, Prism Right Ear, Sweetie Belle Top Mane, Mane Fill, SB Iris Fill, SB Pupil, the list goes on and on and on and on! >_<) All's well that ends well though :P

 

 

 

 

 

For some background about the picture, it's from a fanfic that I read called "Colours of the Heart" by Azu on FIMFiction  ^_^ In one of the extra chapters, Sweetie Belle gives the protagonist (Prism) a drawing after watching her perform her rainbow-coloured magic. Prism is an albino (hence her all white coat) pony and has never had any friends because everyone in her old city shunned her and treated her differently. So when Sweetie Belle tells her that she's cool and is her new friend, she's so touched that she starts crying and hugs her :3 Easily one of the most d'aww moments in the story  :(

 

post-7476-0-29097800-1359688386_thumb.png

 

(Prism is lifting a cabbage using her magic in SB's drawing, read the story to find out why :P)

 

((Yeah I know I screwed up her eyes and part of her mane, but oh well not too shabby for a first try innit  :lol: ))

Edited by akita-ken
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Sai ish my best friend. My best friend would be photoshop... but adobe. :(

 

I don't use a tablet, so its nice I can actually do something due to the lovely stabilizer. Of course, I use linework layers for my actual art. Raster is much nicer then vector, in my opinion. I find vector takes longer, but that may be because I'm not used to it.

 

As far as your picture goes; It's quite good for a first attempt. The eye and snouts seem a bit off, but the overall body is fine. I'm not really sure why you have those darker streaks on Prism and Sweetie's tail though...

 

 

EDIT: Just as a note so you don't make this mistake if you ever do something in Sai with no background, Sai doesn't support transparency. So save it as a psd then run it in another program that supports transparency THEN save it as a png. I've made that mistake too many times.

Edited by Firebolt
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Ah yes, the initial transition from vector to raster and vice versa will almost guarantee a few obstacles, and present you with some learning curves along the way.  I for one tried my hand at going from raster to vector, and I favor raster, tbh.

 

But anyways,  this art is not half bad at all, especially when you're so use to vectoring.  I'm not familiar with SAI (I used Ps CS6 for my raster art and Inkscape for vectoring), but it looks to be on par with similar programs.  I think you've done well with conveying Prism's emotion through her body language and facial expression; you'd be surprised how many people mess that up in their drawings.  Same goes for Sweetie Belle.  Yes, their eyes are a bit misshapen, and the outline of their tails could be smoother.  However, this is a good start into raster art and drawing freehanded!  

 

Also, I'm gonna have to reiterate Firebolt's comment about the dark strokes in their tails/ coats.  If, by chance, you're trying to incorporate shadows, that's cool.  Setting the brush's opacity at a lower percentage with black (or some other darker color) and accenting the outline of the tails and other limbs would add a bit more detail.

 

Either way, good job, and I'd like to see more raster art from you and even some vectors!

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EDIT: Just as a note so you don't make this mistake if you ever do something in Sai with no background, Sai doesn't support transparency. So save it as a psd then run it in another program that supports transparency THEN save it as a png. I've made that mistake too many times.

 

Got it! I'll make sure to take note of that the next time I do a piece in SAI  ;)

 

As far as your picture goes; It's quite good for a first attempt. The eye and snouts seem a bit off, but the overall body is fine. I'm not really sure why you have those darker streaks on Prism and Sweetie's tail though...

 

 

Also, I'm gonna have to reiterate Firebolt's comment about the dark strokes in their tails/ coats.  If, by chance, you're trying to incorporate shadows, that's cool.  Setting the brush's opacity at a lower percentage with black (or some other darker color) and accenting the outline of the tails and other limbs would add a bit more detail.

 

Both of you have caught me, haha :) Yes, I was trying to add a little shading to them by using the brush tool to do their fills. Was going for the 'fur' kind of texture on their coats but that didn't turn out too well :P

 

Thank you both for the helpful tips! I'll be sure to keep them in mind if and when I do another raster piece  :wub:

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Got it! I'll make sure to take note of that the next time I do a piece in SAI  ;)

 

 

 

 

Both of you have caught me, haha :) Yes, I was trying to add a little shading to them by using the brush tool to do their fills. Was going for the 'fur' kind of texture on their coats but that didn't turn out too well :P

 

Thank you both for the helpful tips! I'll be sure to keep them in mind if and when I do another raster piece  :wub:

I don't actually shade in SAI, but I used to, so here's a few tips;

 

I would suggest not using black for shading ever. Whatever the color is, use a darker color of that as your dark shading. I generally used the same color as the lines. For highlighting, use the air brush tool instead of the pen, and use it on the parts you didn't color with shade, then turn down the opacity of the whole layer.

 

You will want to do your shading under all bulges, as well as just inside the lines, to make the pony look a bit more rounded.

 

Anyways, I hope to see your progress!

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Ive heard a lot from SAI. Any differences between it and Photoshop? Im currently using photoshop cs5, and happy with it, so im not planning a switch atm, just curious.

Also, not counting flash, ive ony done vector art once, and thats my profile pic XD

 

The picture is good, especially for a first. I can definetly feel the emotion, which is the most important part; just work on facial form a tad bit :)

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Ive heard a lot from SAI. Any differences between it and Photoshop? Im currently using photoshop cs5, and happy with it, so im not planning a switch atm, just curious.

Also, not counting flash, ive ony done vector art once, and thats my profile pic XD

 

Well, Photoshop is really an all-rounder when it comes to raster image editing and post-processing. If you're comfortable with Ps then you won't have a problem using SAI. That being said, SAI was built from the ground up with only one thing in mind: drawing. The interface, toolset, and features in SAI are all geared towards drawing with either mouse or tablets (it has very good tablet support). You won't find image editing tools like magic wands and clone stamp tools in SAI for sure, if you need those you'll have to export to Ps first. 

 

One thing SAI has that Photoshop doesn't is the pen stabilizer tool, which is great for making smooth curvy lines that have literally no jitter whatsoever. Even so, Photoshop is still the king when it comes to amount of customization you can have for the tools and is able to do most of what SAI's tools can do to some extent. It does have the ability to smooth a line if you configure the brush preset correctly, and it has decent enough support for pen tablet pressure as well.

 

The picture is good, especially for a first. I can definetly feel the emotion, which is the most important part; just work on facial form a tad bit :)

 

Thanks!  :wub:

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Sai ish my best friend. My best friend would be photoshop... but adobe. :(

 

I don't use a tablet, so its nice I can actually do something due to the lovely stabilizer. Of course, I use linework layers for my actual art. Raster is much nicer then vector, in my opinion. I find vector takes longer, but that may be because I'm not used to it.

 

As far as your picture goes; It's quite good for a first attempt. The eye and snouts seem a bit off, but the overall body is fine. I'm not really sure why you have those darker streaks on Prism and Sweetie's tail though...

 

 

EDIT: Just as a note so you don't make this mistake if you ever do something in Sai with no background, Sai doesn't support transparency. So save it as a psd then run it in another program that supports transparency THEN save it as a png. I've made that mistake too many times.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by transparency, but if it doesn't have a background you can save it so the background is transparent. Just export it as a png, and when the menu comes up, select "32bpp ARGB (Each pixel have Opacity)". Now the white background should be transparent. 

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by transparency, but if it doesn't have a background you can save it so the background is transparent. Just export it as a png, and when the menu comes up, select "32bpp ARGB (Each pixel have Opacity)". Now the white background should be transparent. 

Sai does not have menues for saving as png files, so I really don't know where you are getting that from...

 

Did you mean a different file type?

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Huh, that's strange. My version of SAI has an option to save it as a different png type. Maybe you have an outdated version, as I believe this functionality was added about a year ago. I've added a screenshot of my screen of what I get when I save as a png. This menu pops up. I select the bottom option and all the white becomes transparent. 

 

post-10433-0-69571900-1359734073_thumb.png

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Hey yeah, my version of SAI has an option to export to PNG too, along with a whole bunch of other file types, but it doesn't give me a PNG options dialog box like yours. It just saves it without asking anything : :huh:

 

post-7476-0-04067900-1359734930_thumb.jpg

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Hey yeah, my version of SAI has an option to export to PNG too, along with a whole bunch of other file types, but it doesn't give me a PNG options dialog box like yours. It just saves it without asking anything : :huh:

 

That's really weird. The only thing I can think of is that you have an outdated version of SAI. All of the websites that say SAI cannot do transparency are dated from 2009-2011. The people that say SAI can do transparency are posts from 2012. Sorry, only solution I  can think of. 

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