Rebelle Updated for Natural Media Painting

Is everything that can possibly be done with a graphics program already available? Are there really any fresh approaches left for software that can help us create art and illustrations? Well, yes, it would seem that small developers still have a contribution to make in this area. One of the smallest is Escape Motions, which launched its Flame Painter drawing application a few years ago and more recently followed that up with Amberlight, an algorithm-driven image generation program. In May of last year it released Rebelle, a natural-media paint program.

Of course, there's no shortage of existing natural media applications and related Photoshop plugins. But the developer claims that Rebelle is the "closest a digital tool has ever come to recreating the real-time flow, spontaneity and feel of traditional materials." If true, one would think that Corel Painter, priced at $429, would be under significant pressure from the $59.99 Rebelle.

The program's watercolor capabilities are apparently its strong point, with users having the ability to paint, smear, re-wet dried colors, blow wet washes across the image surface, and even tilt the surface to create water drops and runs. Also promising is that its various wet tools, such as watercolor, acrylics and ink pen, can be combined with dry tools such as pastels or pencils to create unusual effects. An innovative color mixing mode makes it possible to simply click on any color in an illustration, as well the palette or color set, to add it to the currently selected drawing color, with additional clicks adding more of the new color. The program includes a range of paper and canvas textures, 23 Photoshop blending modes, unlimited layers and Wacom tablet support. Files can be exported in PNG, JPG and TIF formats.

Rebelle 1.4 added smoother and faster painting for large canvases; an improved Eraser tool; and a variety of under-the-hood technical improvements. Not too riveting. Version 1.5, on the other had, seems like a much more significant uprade, promising more than 40 new features and updates. The ability to employ larger canvas and paint more quickly is of course very welcome. The addition of a Pause Diffusion feature, to pa use the spreading of digitazl pigment, is a worthy addition. Normal, Permanent, Dirty and Clean brush modes now make for more realistic watercolor and acrylic painting, as shown below.

Touch support has been beefed up to support zoom, pan and the abiliy to rotate the viewport and layers. You want to control the flow of watercolor effects by tilting your tablet? Well, now you can. Other enhancements include an improved palette panel and custom palettes; improved paint blending; a beefed up Smudge and Dry tool; and enhanced support for Wacom, Surface and other tablets.

Rebelle 1.5 for Mac and Windows is available for $59.99 on the Escape Motions site. A trial version is also available.

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