How Much Does PaintTool SAI Cost?

There are a ton of graphics programs out there. Some are free, whereas others come with a hefty fee. Finding a program that matches the user’s exact needs is great but finding one that fits the budget is even better. One popular piece of artistic software is PaintTool SAI.

PaintTool SAI has a one-time cost of approximately $50 USD, though the price may fluctuate. It does come with a free 31-day trial period that includes all features of the full software. Purchasing the license also allows access to PaintTool SAI 2 for no additional cost.

This is a program that comes highly recommended by artists all over the world. It is extremely lightweight and user friendly, so many artists find the one time cost reasonable. Keep reading for

What Is PaintTool SAI?

PaintTool SAI is a graphics software made by SYSTEMAX Software to be lightweight and artist friendly. It has numerous tools and features at its disposal with a simple yet effective UI, making it a popular choice for digital artists.

Some things you can do with Paint Tool SAI include but are not limited to:

  • Layers
  • Canvases
  • Color palettes
  • Brushes
  • Export work to PSD or BMP
  • Pen pressure sensitivity support

It is important to note that this is not an image editing software. While some minor adjustments can be made, it’s really not the goal of the program. This helps keep it lightweight and optimized for art, without a bunch of additional bells and whistles that some other programs have.

How Much Does PaintTool SAI Cost?

Sometimes programs have additional costs besides the set cost to buy it. Is PaintTool SAI different?

PaintTool SAI costs approximately $50 USD. This is barring any adjustments made throughout the year including sales and any taxation requirements. The best part about this is that this is a one time fee rather than being a subscription-based service like some other notable competitors.

Once the license is purchased, it allows access to the upgraded version of the program as well without any additional fees. This license is limited to the computer and needs to be redownloaded to use on multiple devices.

Does PaintTool SAI Have a Free Trial?

What if you want to try it out before spending a pretty penny on this program?

PaintTool SAI does in fact have a 31-day free trial advertised on their official website. This trial includes all of the features of the program with no strings attached. Once this trial period is over, users can choose whether or not to purchase the license.

 This license is shipped as a digital certificate that includes a password to access the files needed to unlock the full program, as well as access to SAI 2 as development for the original has been canceled.

Can You Download PaintTool SAI for Free?

The only place where PaintTool SAI should be downloaded from is the official sources, which comes with a fee after the trial period of 31 days is complete.

While there are many sites that claim to give out the program for free, this is considered illegal in most cases and areas and is strongly discouraged even where it may not be. These bootleg versions may come with a whole host of problems including viruses, malware, and legal repercussions. It’s best to stick to the official sources and be safe.

What Is the Difference Between PaintTool SAI and PaintTool SAI 2?

There are not many differences between the original version of PaintTool SAI and the updated one. However, most users agree that this optional upgrade is well worth it. Thankfully, it is possible to get the license key free for SAI 2 if the original was purchased, so there’s no downside to at least trying it and seeing if it works out.

Here are some of the notable differences that the updated version has over the original:

  • Text tools
  • Work Recovery
  • Scatter brushes
  • Higher layer limit
  • Rulers

Do note that some of the original brushes will have to be remade in order to use with SAI 2 as they don’t always transfer over smoothly. This might not be an issue however if jumping straight to using the upgrade rather than starting with just the base, or if those brushes aren’t used in the first place.

Alternatives to PaintTool SAI

Depending on the needs for the program, there are numerous alternatives to PaintTool SAI out there, both free and paid. If the goal is for an image editing software, look for something that is actively stated to be such rather than something stating it is an artistic graphics suite.

Here are a few alternatives for PaintTool SAI to consider:

Free AlternativesPaid Alternatives
Adobe Illustrator
Corel Painter
Clip Studio Paint

Do note that this is not an all-inclusive list, just some of the most common and highly rated ones. Be sure to weight the options based on individual needs and budget if needing to select an alternative, and ensure that there are no additional fees, subscriptions, or premium services that might change the price down the line.

What are the System Requirements for PaintTool SAI?

While the program is lightweight, there are some requirements as noted on the SYSTEMAX website. Following these requirements ensures that the program runs as intended.

These are the minimum requirements as officially outlined on the website:

  • Computer: PC/AT (not virtual machine)
  • OS: Windows 2000 or later and will work on 64bit Windows
  • CPU: Pentium 450MHz or later (requires MMX support)
  • System Memory (RAM): 128MB for Windows 2000, 256MB for Windows XP, 1024MB for Windows Vista or later
  • HDD: 512MB free space
  • Graphics Card: Resolution 1024×768, “32bit True Color” screen
  • Support Device: Wintab compatible digitizer with pressure support

For the most part, modern machines will have no trouble operating the program. Unfortunately, it is not supported on MacOS, virtual machines, or tablets.


PaintTool SAI is a wildly popular tool for digital artists, and for good reason. It’s lightweight enough to even function smoothly on older Windows machines, while being powerful enough to create some amazing works of art. It was designed with artists in mind, as evident by the fabulous user interface and plethora of tools available.

It does come with a one time fee; however, this does include a 31-day free trial and access to the upgraded version at no additional cost. Just be sure to always download from official sources and enjoy!