How To Draw Water In Paint Tool SAI

Incorporating water into your designs is one way to enhance your skill set. Drawing water also helps you create more cool effects. However, it is also a bit tricky to do. This tutorial teaches you how to draw water using Paint Tool SAI.

To draw water in Paint Tool SAI, start by adjusting the brush size settings. Select the area where you would like to draw the water. Sample different colors and color them in using the brush tool. Now, adjust the brush size and create a new layer. On this new layer, you can add different highlights and effects.

Keep reading below for more details on these steps.

Drawing Water: Paint Tool SAI vs. Photoshop

Some people prefer to use Paint Tool SAI for drawing water, and others prefer Photoshop. In this section, we briefly compare both programs so you can decide which one to use.


Layers, brushes, and colors are just a few of the fundamental elements Paint Tool SAI offers. Although Photoshop includes several more sophisticated functions, including picture editing, web design, and 3D modeling, it also offers these features.

Paint Tool SAI will do if you only need basic paint software. However, Photoshop would be better if you want more sophisticated functionality.

Ease of Use

Paint Tool SAI is incredibly intuitive and simple to use. Even though Photoshop might be trickier to learn than Paint Tool SAI, once you’ve gotten the feel for it, it can be just as simple to use. If you are not accustomed to working with digital art applications, both tools have a steep learning curve.


A $50 one-time payment is required for Paint Tool SAI. On the contrary, Photoshop demands a $9.99/month membership. In the long term, Paint Tool SAI will be less expensive if you want to use either application for a period of time that is longer than a few months.

How to Draw Water Using Paint Tool SAI

Follow the steps in this section to learn how to draw water using Paint Tool SAI.

For more information on this topic, watch this video below:

Step 1: Adjust Brush Settings

To draw water in Paint Tool SAI, you must first adjust the brush settings according to these specifications:

  • Min Size: 50%
  • Density: 71%
  • Noise (density): 0%
  • Color Blending: 0%
  • Opacity Mix: 0%
  • Persistence: 6%
  • Quality: 3
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Min Density: 0%
  • Max Density: 0%
  • Hard – Soft: 60%                                  

Make sure to keep the opacity option ticked.

Under the Pressure option, ensure the size, color, and density options are ticked.

Step 2: Make a Selection

Focus or capture the section of water you want to color in.

  • To do this, expand the section by using ‘Selection’ > ‘Expand select by 1px.’

Step 3: Sample Colors

  • Pick the ‘Brush Tool’ and sample the colors you want to use for the water section.
  • Right-click with a tablet to sample colors more quickly.

Step 4: Color In

  • Make large blots of color using the brush tool at different areas of the water.

Step 5: Adjust Brush Size

  • At this stage, switch to a smaller brush size to make blots of color and give it more detail.

Step 6: Create New Layer

  • Keep the section focused or captured and create a new layer above the layer of color.

Step 7: Sample Colors

  • This newly created layer is for highlights and effects. Sample and try out lighter colors to use.

Step 8: Change Blending Mode

  • Change the blending mode on the new layer to ‘overlay.’

Note: This program has an unofficial English translation so it might not appear in your program. Therefore, try different modes to see if you get the right results. If you don’t get the right result, just import it into Photoshop later and use the overlay blending mode.

Step 9: Add Details

  • Use a small brush size and make a group of small dots with the brush tool.

These dots are just decorations used to give the body of water more detail; hence, they are optional. If you don’t want to include any dots, don’t draw them.

Step 10: Create Ripples

  • Use a large brush size and make dashes with the brush tool that appear to be going in the same direction.

Step 11: Add More Details

  • Use a small brush size and create more dots. This time, use a slightly bigger brush size than before and a different color.

Bonus Tip

If you have any characters in the water, then make sure to add additional shading in the water so that it can indicate their presence.


And there we are. In this section, we demonstrated how you can use Paint Tool SAI to create any water body. Although it is a simple process, it can be tricky at first, especially if you are new to digital art applications.