Completing Artwork in Paint Tool SAI
Easy Paint Tool SAI is an inexpensive digital art program that allows its user to create works of art in both vector and rasterized styles. Though the Japanese company SYSTEMAX developed the program, it is available for purchase in both Japanese and English. There is also a free thirty-one day trial if you would like to try it out before you buy it. I will assume that you have downloaded the program and have familiarized yourself with the basic functions and terms used for this tutorial, as I will simply guide you through the process of completing your artwork.
First to any art process, is to familiarize yourself with your materials. SAI is great for tablet artists as well as mouse artists. Tablets are computer hardware that will allow you to use a specialized pen to draw directly onto the software, just as you would a pencil to a piece of paper. They range in price depending on the size, brand, and capabilities, though I recommend starting with a small inexpensive one until you are adjusted to it. When I listed mouse, yes, I did mean a typical computer mouse since there are some of us that actually prefer it. There are even artists who use a laptop touchpad as their tool and simply finger-paint their works. Whatever you choose to use, it is best to grow comfortable with it before pouring effort into your artwork. This will save you time and frustration.
Next, you will need to create your basic sketch. There are a few ways to go about your sketch. You can sketch it on paper to scan and open it in SAI or you can sketch it on a layer within SAI itself. They can be anything from basic shapes to sketchy rough drafts of what you have envisioned. The sketch is simply there to act as your personal guideline and will not be seen in your finalized work, so add as much or as little detail as you feel you need. However, sketch layers are highly recommended, as they act as your guide for your completed work. If you choose not to create a sketch layer, you run the risk of running into problems with anatomy or placement, which again leads to many artists' frustration.
After setting up your sketch, the key is to always remember to work in layers. I personally like to use the vector layer for my inked lines, since I find the curve tool easiest to use with a mouse. There is also a pen tool available that acts in a similar manner for tablet artists. Using a vector layer allows you to place what are called "points" with the click of a mouse, which will allow you to move or edit the line from that point rather than erasing and redrawing the entire line. There is also a pressure tool available that will allow you to increase or decrease the boldness of the lines connected to that point. Many artists use this to simulate pencil pressure, and to add dimension to otherwise flat artwork.
Once you have completed your inked layer, assuming your artwork even needed bold outlines, you can proceed to color. SAI offers a variety of tools to simulate many styles of artwork. The oil paintbrush, airbrush, marker, and crayon tools are just a few examples. These tools, however, cannot be accessed while working on a vector layer; you will need to create a rasterized layer to use them. This can be achieved by clicking on the "new layer" button over the layers window, rather than the "new vector" button. You will now begin to paint your colors and finalize your work.
Remember, there is no limit to the number of layers you can have. Some artists create a new layer for every portion of their picture, such as background, skin, hair, and clothing for a human subject. There are some who create one layer for flat colors, one for shadows, and one for highlights. You choose what works best for you and your style. After all, only you know what sort of look you are aiming for. Now that you know where to begin, you can enjoy creating artwork on the easiest canvas to clean up after!