Paint Tool Sai vs. Manga Studio

Paint Tool Sai vs Manga Studio

As I post my stuff up on deviantart, some people have asked me what the differences are between two pieces of computer software – Manga Studio and Paint Tool Sai. I started off with Paint Tool Sai and then got Manga Studio when my computer broke down and Paint Tool Sai went down with it. In general, there are 2 versions of Manga Studio for sale – the Debut and the Ex version; I have the Debut version as it was cheaper and so I do not have the benefits of Ex (which is obviously the more expensive one).

But anyway, here are my basic opinions of Manga Studio:


  1. Excellent for lineart. It gives you various pens all manga artists use – from G pen, Maru pen, Kabura pen and a brush pen. G pen is my favourite, and you can even change the line thickness of all pens.
  2. Good for manga obviously. It comes with lots of screen tones and panel layouts. So you can open a ‘new page’ and then select a layout, for instance, maybe you want 4 panels in one page, or 3, or 5 or 2.
  3. You know those background glittery things or flowers some manga have, particularly in shoujo manga? Well, Manga Studio has an airbrush for that function, too.
  4. You can add speech bubbles, and there are lots of speech bubbles to choose from, from thinking bubbles etc etc


  1. Limited colours and colouring tools. It’s not good for colouring in general.
  2. The eraser pisses me off. if you erase a tiny bit, it sometimes takes off a huge chunk and you have to keep re-doing it
  3. It can als get fiddly when using the panels to do a manga page.
  4. You have to import pictures if you need to scan pictures you did by hand. Even then the size will have to A4 or B4

Here is my example of Manga Studio at work.


Paint Tool Sai:


  1. Awesome for colouring. There are tonnes of colours to use!
  2. Plenty of tools for colouring too, from brush, watercolour brush, pen, marker, paint bucket etc
  3. There is also a pen tool function and you can choose the size and stuff. It’s rather standard
  4. You can work with all sizes of pictures


  1. Not good for lineart even though you can change the line weight and edit it. For me, the lineart really defines the picture, but for colouring, then obviously Paint Tool rules
  2. It’s not free (although some people got it for free quite a while ago).

Anyway, here is my example of Paint Tool sai:


There aren’t many cons of Paint Tool, although I do prefer to work with Manga Studio though because I like doing lineart than colouring (and I’m just bad at colouring in general).


19 thoughts on “Paint Tool Sai vs. Manga Studio

  1. ikeda says:

    A bit of a late comment, but to improve the erasing capabilities of Manga Studio, there is a third color called transparency. You can use this with any brush, and it will have the same effect as “erasing”. It is the third color in the color lineup and cannot be changed. This feature is available in both Debut and EX.

    And as you mentioned, Manga Studio is definitely not made for coloring!

  2. MrMrMan says:

    Ok, it may be a little late to review and I don’t know, if you have figured it out on your own by now, (or, if you will even read this) but I think, you don’t give manga studio the credits, it deserves. Because frankly, it outmatches Paint tool sai by far imo(except the stabelicer, I realy miss it).
    First off all, try to close the beginners assistent on the right side because from what I’ve read you only used this and not the propper functions of MS4. After that open the first four tabs, underneath the help button.
    Now you should have a tool list, a better layer window, an navigator window and a window, that gives you plenty of options, for your chosen tool.
    (E.g. chose the pen tool and you got options like the size, a stroke in-stroke out funktion, some extra funktions, like line correction, according to speed and many more. Oh, and click on the button infront of ‘Size’ to get some extra options. Plus, you can save your pen, brush,… settings, to reuse them later.)
    With that you should have a lot more actions, to work with and the colloring part gets as easy, as in PT-Sai (The bucket and magic wand works wonders^^)
    For the lack of colors, just dubbleclick onto one of the first two settings for the colors in the tool window and you will get to the color settings, to chose whatever you want. And you can create new colorsets there, for certain characters, or for colors, you use frequently.
    I hope, that this helps and It would be good, if you could redo your view on MS4 because it puts it in a bad light and people might be scared away from buying a pretty awesome tool for painting.

    Please note, that english isn’t my native language and if any part of this sounds offensive or insulting, it is because I just couldn’t formulate it in another way, so sory for that. Oh and as you’ve written Paint-Tool Sai is an awesome program too and I still love to use it every now and then 🙂 (thumbs up for the stabilizer^^)

    PS: I use the Ex version of MS4 and I’m aware, that some functions of my program arn’t in the debut version, I tried, to consider it in my post and I’m pretty sure, that the debut version already has most of the options I mentioned, but if I overlooked something, than please tell me.

    So, I wish you and all readers a nice day. Cul.

    • Fish and Chips says:

      O_O lol no you’re not offending me at all haha 🙂 thanks for the super long comment!!! I didn’t know how to use manga studio and I still don’t >< but yes i do agree its an extremely professional and awesome piece of software!!!! but what i'd just like to say is I put a lot of basic pros and cons for my review because I've had some people ask me what materials I use and I didn't want them to be put off by being so in-depth so any extra stuff which you mentioned is a plus. thanks again for commenting B)

      • MrMrMan says:

        Don’t worry, I don’t know, how to use MS4 either. Right now I just play with the program and hope, that I’ll find some tools, that will be somewhat helpful in the future. And the beginner assistent wasn’t one^^ (I mean seriously. A 300€ software and no option, to sellect the wanted color but having the eyedropper tool? That would be realy disapointing:) )
        Anyways, I just wanted, to point out the pros of MS4 a little more and maybe you will find some functions you are going to use in the future, so have fun exploring;)

        And if you want to try it, a few days ago a painting program called ‘FireAlpaca’ came out and from the looks of it, it is a program pretty simmilar to PT-Sai and free as well, so maybe you want to take a look into it. (I would hav too but I installed it while having japanese location settimgs on, so I can’t understand a singel word there until I reinstall, But you may have better luck with this.)

        Well then, have a good evening, morning,… whatever-timezone-you-live-in-ing.

    • Fish and Chips says:

      You can get a trial, which is for free. I have Sai and it was free. I know and have many artist friends who all got Sai for free too. Also, there is an artist who shared a link on deviantart which people can click on to download free Sai, so I guess you’re calling them thieves too.

      • teddywishbringer says:

        The developer does not offer a free version except for a trial 30 day period, yes, any version that lasts longer than the 30 day trail is hacked/pirated. So yes, those people too are thieves.. and yet are the first to complain when someone steals their art they made with their stolen software. Ironic really. 😀

      • Fish and Chips says:

        Did you pay for sai? I got the trial too and someone shared a link with me saying it was free. A lot of people got Sai for free so if you are trying to campaign then good luck

  3. Anonymous says:

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.

  4. Zekorua says:

    For the lineart thing on SAI; you can use a regular layer and pencil tool for that instead of the vector layer. Just turn the stabilizer up to S-1 or higher (I usually use S-60) and then draw like normal. It will make the lines reeeaaalllly slow but they are really smooth.

  5. John says:

    Could you please correct your post. Paint Tool SAI is NOT free, as mentioned above. It costs about 50$. The similar price is Manga Studio Debut.
    So please correct it. Pirated/cracked version may work without paying money, but it doesn’t mean its is free.
    If you want a free toll use Gimp or Krita, both are free in the sense of price and the sens of freedom ( GPL, opensource ).

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