Rebelle 3 (A Watercolor Painting Application)

One of the best watercolor simulating programs to be found is Rebelle by Escape Motions. This is a Windows painting app and it simulates real watercolor, ink, and acrylic paint. The current version is Rebelle 3 and they have updated their watercolor simulations to be even more realistic. Textures and stencils have also been added in the newest versions.

The UI of Rebelle 3 has a main menu, brushes, special functions, brush controls, brush heads, layers, color pickers, preview, image reference, stencils, and ruler tools. You can open and close panels, dock or leave them floating, and arrange them anyway you want.

You can also customize your mouse or tablet pen and set up keyboard shortcuts.

There are eight main brush categories: watercolor, acrylic, pastel, pencil, ink pen, marker, airbrush, and eraser. You can also control the brush size, pressure, paint load, and amount of water. The brush modes are: permanent, normal, dirty, clean brush, and eraser brush. There are several presets in each brush category and you can change the settings on these to create and save new brushes.

In the photo above there are some examples of strokes from each brush category. One of the new features in Rebelle 3 is changing the depth on the acrylic impasto brush. There are 8 presets in the watercolor category, 4 in the acrylics, 3 in pastels, 6 in pencils (this includes a charcoal pencil), 4 pen presets, 2 markers, 4 airbrush presets, and seven eraser presets (including an eraser that makes a salt like texture).

There are two types of color picker palettes and you can also create and save color sets.

There is also a navigator panel where you can see your whole canvas and a layers panel. In the layers panel you have controls to see the wet parts of a layer, you can start and stop the water flow, make the whole canvas wet, make the layer dry, and remove the water. There are layer blending modes, a tracing mode, and a function like watercolor masking fluid.

One of the newer features is stencils. There are a few presets, but you can make your own stencils by importing photos into the stencils panel. You can move the stencil, rotate it, and flip it.

What sets Rebelle apart from other digital programs is the water simulations. When you use watercolor, acrylic, and ink you can control the amount of water in the brush. Lots of water makes the paint spread, diffuse, and drip on the canvas. A small amount of water gives a more dry brush effect. When you click the Show Wet button the program highlights all the wet parts of your painting in blue.

In addition to setting the paper texture for the painting, you can create a new brush and set the paper texture for each brush. The grain setting adds the paper texture for the brush. The brush shape can also be changed as well as the jitter, scatter, opacity, and more. You can save your changes as a new brush.

Here are the default paper textures for the brush heads. They are included with Rebelle 3 when you buy it.

When you start a new project you can set the paper size, dpi, and the main paper texture.

Rebelle 3 comes with eight paper textures, but you can buy more packets of paper on the Escape Motions website.

The Rebelle website has four paper packages for $9.99 each. Rebelle 3 comes with the Classic package installed.

The one new feature in Rebelle 3 that I really wanted was the reference window! The previous versions didn’t have this feature and I had to use a third party app for references, but now this version has it!

Rebelle is excellent for simulating ink. For example, you can get a sumi ink style by using a Washi paper texture and one of the ink presets. In this picture I sketched a quick drawing of cherry blossoms. You can also control the ink bleed by increasing or decreasing the water.

Stencils are a new feature for Rebelle and there are several that come with the program. To use them, pick your stencil and paint over it with the medium of your choice.

After you’ve painted over the stencil, you can move it and see your picture. Here I used a bird design stencil and painted over it with watercolor.

You can also create your own stencils by importing photographs into the stencil function. Here I used my photo reference of cherry blossoms to make a stencil.

In Rebelle you can make your watercolor, acrylic, or ink paint look runny depending on the amount of water in the settings. You can control the direction of the drips with the tilt control. This helps mimic traditional watercolor pouring techniques.

When you add other mediums to the watercolor drips, the two mediums blend together as if water was mixing them together. Rebelle 3 has improved this function from previous versions and looks even more realistic now.

When you click on the eye icon in the layers palette, it will show you all the areas that wet. These areas will show up in blue. You can dry them out with another function located in the layers palette.


by Ellie Taylor

Here is a spooky painting that I created for Inktober 2017 using Rebelle 2. As you can see, this program does a good job mimicking ink and watercolor. Here is my video lesson of that painting.

Aaron Rutten has done a very good review of the new features of Rebelle 3 in his YouTube video. Check it out here.

You can find Rebelle at

Reviewing Clip Studio (Formerly Known as Manga Studio 5)

One of the best programs for creating comics is Clip Studio (formerly known as Manga Studio 5). This PC program is very affordable and loaded with lots of features. It has over 50 natural media tools and around 80 special effects brushes. The categories for the natural media are pens, markers, oil paint, watercolor, India ink, pastel, pencil, blenders, and airbrush. The special effects brushes categories are: effects, hatching, cloth patterns, patterns, flowers, vegetation, artificial scene, natural scene, ruled line, and ivy.  Clip Studio also has a lot of other tools such as select tools, magic wand, gradient tool, text tool, dialogue bubbles, paint bucket, and ruler/perspective guides. There are also tons of materials for making comics including backgrounds, poseable models, comic book frames, textures, objects, comic book special effects, and character design elements. You can also import new brushes. You can even make animation clips in this program.

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You can load different user interfaces according to your needs. There is an Illustrator’s workspace, a comics workspace, or a workspace that arranges everything by categories. You can also create your own workspaces and register them.

clip s4 When you start a new project you can set the size and resolution like any other program, but you can also set up a comic strip format, or make an animation timeline.

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Here are all the tool panels. There is a panel for brushes and all their settings. With these panels you can create new brushes. The materials panel contains backgrounds, pictures, patterns, 3d figures that you can pose, cartoon characters, and more materials that you can download from the Clip Studio website. The tool bar on the left side contains brush tools, paint bucket, select tools, gradients, and a text tool. The tool bar on the far right has the layers palette, the actions timeline, navigator, and materials folder. There’s also a tool bar on the top with quick functions for save, undo/redo, and paint bucket.

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There is also a color wheel and color palette. The 3d materials contain poseable models, objects, backgrounds and pre-made poses.

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Clip Studio even has templates for different types of comic frames. These are found in the new file settings. There are also tons of comic word speech balloons and special effects.

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These are the watercolor brushes.

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These are the oil brushes and India ink pens.

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Here are the pencils, pastels, and airbrushes.

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These are the pens and markers.

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Here are the different types of blending brushes and ruled lines.

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Here are the special effects and hatching brushes.

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These are the clothing, pattern, and flower brushes.

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Here are the vegetation and artificial scene brushes.

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These are the natural scene brushes and the erasers. Overall there is a nice selection of natural media brushes and stamp brushes. Of course you can import brushes or make variations of your own brushes if you want a bigger brush library.

Story Book small

‘A Reading Adventure’

by Ellie Taylor (Prints are available at ) I created this painting in Clip Studio mainly using the natural media brushes for watercolor, oil, and ink.

Clip Studio is a very powerful program for making comics. It has tons of resources and features. It is also nice for making digital paintings, but the main function of this program is comic making. It is terrific for inking and coloring comic book pages. There are two versions Pro and EX. In the EX version there are tools for making and publishing multipage comic books. Clip Studio Pro runs about $47.99 and Clip Studio EX is $209.99 depending on where you buy them. You can buy them at or at However, usually the company will run a big sale on this program at least once a year and if you can catch that, you can get these programs for at least half off.

Here are some great YouTube artists that use Clip Studio:

Jonathan Rector-

Robert Marzullo-

Lawrence Mann-

I like to get canvas prints of my digital paintings to sell and there are lots of good printing services online.  

Twisted Brush is All About the Brushes.

Twisted Brush is a digital painting program for the desktop PC. This program is all about the brushes! It has over 5,000 brushes! Twisted Brush has natural media brushes that include oil and acrylic brushes, chalk and oil pastels, charcoals, markers, pencils, crayons, watercolors, gouache, ink pens, airbrushes, erasers, blenders, and palette knife. There are also tons of special effects types of brushes such as stamp brushes, special shapes, blobs (these are almost 3d looking), and masking brushes. You can also modify existing brushes and create new brushes as well. Twisted Brush has many features such as masking, a customizable UI, a reference window, custom palettes, filters (this is the layer blend modes), gradients, paint bucket, select tools, perspective guides, grids, a tracing tool, a text tool, and textures. There is also a script time-lapse recording function and you can play back your paintings. This program also has basic animation functions and cloning features. Because there are so many brushes, Twisted Brush has the option to set up different art sets with all your favorite brushes.

Here is the Twisted Brush UI. At first it looks daunting but once you break it down, it’s fairly simple. It mostly consists of brush and color sets.

When you click on the arrow next to a brush, the Brush Sets menu pops out.Currently there are 12 brush categories. Each category has its own subset of brushes. Version 23 has come out and now there are 16 categories including the new Blob, Tree, Liquid, and Paint sets.

Each subset has tons of brushes in them. I’m not even going to attempt to count them all! Just let it suffice to say there are over 5,000.

You can choose your paper textures by clicking on the paper layer in the layers palette.

You can also pick the color of paper that you want.

Overall Twisted Brush is a really fun program. If you like getting lots of digital brushes, you will really enjoy this program! You can download a free version of this program and buy individual brush packs ranging from $5 to $20. You can also buy specialized versions of this program based on brush types such as natural media or blob brushes for around $29.95. The main program, Twisted Brush Pro Studio, runs about $99. Here is their website: There are also lots of web tutorials on their YouTube channel at Ken Carlino


‘Old Tree’ by Ellie Taylor  (Prints available at EllieTaylorArt )

Here is an example of a painting that I did using the acrylic and watercolor brushes in Twisted Brush Pro Studio. 


Taking a Look at Paintstorm Studio

Paintstorm Studio is a fairly new program that is very feature rich. This program is similar to Corel Painter, but not as complex. Paintstorm Studio has 12 different brush categories:  main brushes, erasers, round bristle brushes, flat bristle brushes, pencils, pens, rollers, color modes, blenders, lights, multi-brushes, and double brushes. It has around 200 brushes and you can also create your own brushes. There are some really neat special effects brushes in this program including comets, stars, nebulas, double loaded brushes, multi-colored brushes, oil paint brushes, tree brushes, and more. The blending brushes work nicely and can give oil paint, acrylic, or watercolor effects. There are many different settings on the brushes that can be adjusted: jitter, saturation, angle, color, color amount, transparency, texture, and a lot more.

Paintstorm Studio also has several tools such as gradients, perspective guides, grids, symmetry tools, lasso tools, selection tools, layer blend modes, clipping mask tools, a paint mixing palette, color swatches, a customizable UI with floating palettes, paint bucket, and a reference window. You can set up keyboard shortcuts and lock your customized UI into place. You can also change the UI to several different presets and customize its color.

Overall this is a very nice program and very feature rich. It is similar to Corel Painter, but doesn’t have quite as many features. However, it is very affordable at $19 for one license or $29 for two licenses if you want the program on two computers. They will also let you switch computers if you just have one license. Here is their website:

For some really nice tutorials check out The Digital Painter on YouTube at

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Here is the Paintstorm Studio UI.

The Cosmic Artist

“The Cosmic Artist” by EllieTaylor 

Prints available at

In this painting, I had a lot of fun using the comets, stars, and nebulae brushes. They make some really neat effects. The blending brushes are also very good in this program. 


Painting with Painter (Corel Painter 2016)

The largest and most powerful natural media digital painting program is Corel Painter. Corel Painter is a digital painting program that mimics acrylics, oils, pastels, charcoal, pencils, watercolor, ink, crayons, markers, and pretty much any other natural media.This program has tons of paper textures and you can also make your own.You can customize the brushes and save them. You can import and export brushes. Your workspace can be customized and saved for import and export. Corel Painter has powerful layer functions, great editing tools such as crop, symmetry tools, shape tools, perspective guides, text tools, color mixing palettes, and cloning tools. The cloning tools will allow you to make your photos look like paintings or you can use them to paint on your photos. Another powerful feature is the pattern making tools. With these tools you can make clothing patterns out of any image that you want. This program can be used for all sorts of things and it takes a while to learn it, but there are some very good tutorials out there on the Corel website and on YouTube. Here is their main website.

I first purchased Painter when they were on their 12th version. For this version Corel had added a lot of brush library customization. They added creating and removing brush libraries or brush categories, creating and saving brush variants, moving variants to new categories, deleting workspaces, resizing and customizing panels and palettes, customizing the navigator, opening images as mixer pads, and creating flow maps for watercolor and oil brushes.

For Painter X3, they added a brush search function, universal jitter (this adjusts the jitter for all brushes), enhanced stroke preview, perspective guides, enhanced cloning, transforming across layers, better control panels, and memory performance improvements. However, the one feature that got me to upgrade to this version was the addition of a photo reference window. I really wanted that feature and I use it all the time.

Painter 2015 brought more changes including the particle brushes and CPU performance issues. I upgraded because this version ran smoother and faster.

The newest version of Corel Painter is Corel Painter 2016. This version is more streamlined than past versions. Many of the brush categories have been combined. The previous version, Painter 2015, had over 800 brushes. Painter 2016 only has over 300 brushes, but don’t panic because it still comes with all the previous brush libraries going back to Painter 11. They also added Dynamic Speckles. This tool gives jitter to the particle brushes for a more natural media look. For me, the main reason for upgrading to this version is the tool tips that appear when you mouse over the controls. The tool tips show what each control does. This new feature has helped me learn how to tweek my brushes a lot better. There is also a new feature for musicians and performance artists. The new feature makes your brushes react to sound. You can paint to music or the sound of your voice. For Adobe Photoshop users there is a brush import feature for your Photoshop brushes.

One of my favorite features in Corel Painter is the ability to make custom palettes with the brushes, papers, and control shortcuts. You can make a palette for a particular project or one for all your favorite brushes. In the newest version of Corel Painter you can also import and export these palettes.

Corel Painter 2016 UI
Here are two pictures of the Corel Painter UI. (I used it on my desktop PC hooked up to my Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet via the Splashtop app so ignore the mouse scrolling button. That is a Splashtop function. )

corel2016 mainCorel UI setup

Here is a screenshot of all the brush categories.


Buttery Oils is not an original category. I downloaded it from Skip Allen’s website. There are a lot of people that make custom brushes or in depth tutorials for Corel Painter. Here are some of them:

Skip Allen at

Aaron Rutten at

Karen Bonacker at

Lawrence Mann at

Winifred Whitfield at

Jason Maranto at

Here is the pop out menu for the brush settings. You can change the settings on any brush and save it as a new variant. You can literally have thousands of variations on a brush!


Overall, Corel Painter is a very good program and each new version seems to be getting better. With this program you can start a painting from a blank canvas or take a photo and apply lots of different effects. The sky is the limit on this program! Corel Painter is the equivalent of an art studio filled with every kind of painting tool and with the rise in popularity of Windows tablets like the Surface Pro, it’s also mobile! They also have an Android version, but it is a simple program designed to work in conjunction with the PC program. Here is my review of Corel Painter Mobile at Blogger

Here is my latest painting from Corel Painter. I started it in Painter 2015 and finished it in Painter 2016 on my Surface Pro 3.


“Looking for the Strays” by Ellie Taylor. Prints of this painting are available at
Corel Painter 2017

You can buy Corel Painter 2017 through my affiliate link right here!

Sketching With Sketchbook Pro 7

Sketchbook Pro 7 is for the desktop PC. It has over a 100 brushes plus the ability to create your own brushes. The tool bar has function for perspective guides, paint bucket, drawing guides, smooth line controls, selection tools, transform tool, shape tools, crop, layers, brushes, and copic colors. The paint bucket tool has circular and rectangular gradient functions, the drawing guides consist of circle, ellipse, ruler, and french curve tools, and the perspective guides have one point, two point, three point, and fishbowl perspective.

The UI is nicely laid out and can be customized with floating pods. The brushes, color picker, layers, and copic colors can be moved around in their individual pods. There are also two floating pucks that control color and brush size. The color puck has a function that pops out a small color wheel and palette. Also if you slide your mouse to the left or right on the color puck, you can change the saturation of your current color and up and down changes the luminence.  Sliding to the left or right, up or down changes the brush size on the brush size puck.SketchBook Pro 7 UI

The tool lagoon in the corner can be moved to the left or right side of your screen. You can also customize the functions on the lagoon. The default functions are tools, brushes, colors, quick functions such as clear screen and save. Each of these are accessed by a pop out menu on the icon. You can clear the screen of all the pods and tool bars too. One of the new features in the latest version of sketchbook Pro is the flipbook feature. This new feature allows you to animate your drawings.

Sketchbook Pro 7 Brushes
There are 99 brushes and they consist of airbrushes, markers, pencils, ink brushes, synthetic oil brushes, blending brushes, texture brushes, splatter brushes, and erasers. I especially like the synthetic and blending brushes because they mimic natural media.
More Sketchbook Pro 7 Brushes

You can adjust your brush settings and save them as new brushes.


Overall Sketchbook Pro 7 is a really nice sketching and painting program for the desktop PC. I first found it when the 2011 version was released and thought it was the neatest program. I had been trying to use Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 for drawing and it just wasn’t very user friendly to me. Of course Photoshop Elements is primarily a photo editing software and works great for that, but I was just trying to figure out this computer drawing stuff and had no idea what I needed. When I found Sketchbook 2011, I was so impressed. The UI seemed so simple to me after trying to figure out Photoshop and I fell in love with it. Sketchbook is also the reason that I bought my android tablet. I saw that they had a mobile app and I decided to buy an android tablet to draw on with the SketchBook app. So Sketchbook Pro is the main reason that I even started digital drawing and painting. The newest update added an ink pen and glow brushes.

Here is one of my paintings from
I created this painting in SketchBook Pro 6 after they had just added the Synthetic Brushes.

‘Road Toward Wind Mountain’ by Ellie Taylor

ArtRage is a Lot of Fun!

One of my favorite digital painting programs for the desktop PC is ArtRage. It’s just a lot of fun to use. It has a nice user friendly UI and the paint looks very real. My favorite thing to do in this app is take the paint tube and squirt paint on the screen and smear it around with the knife. It looks just like real paint and best of all, you aren’t wasting any real paint when you do this. It’s very therapeutic. I also like the option to make the cursor look like real brushes, pastels, pens, etc. Here are examples of the different cursors.




ArtRage also has cute little icons for its tools like the water glass for rinsing your brush (I love this feature, it’s just like real painting and the water even changes color when you rinse the brush.), a paint bucket spilling out paint, an eyedropper, and the sticker spray pen.



All these little extras in this program make me feel like I’m painting traditionally and best of all there is no cleanup afterwards! This program has a lot of brush presets, stickers, guide tools, reference windows, a clone tool, a grid tool, and the ability to import and export brushes.
The main categories are oil/acrylic brushes, watercolor brushes, pastels, pens, pencils, stickers, glitter, gloop pen, airbrush, markers, and paint roller. It also has an eraser tool, a paint tube, palette knife, and a clone brush.



The palette knife can be used for blending, smudging, or painting. The glitter pen can be used for making textures. The gloop pen can give some watercolor effects, and the sticker spray has tons of presets including more art brushes. You can adjust the settings on all the brushes and tools and save your own presets. The stencils can be used for making shapes, letters, french curves, and a lot more fun stuff. You can clone other pictures, trace them, or use them in the reference windows. The trace function acts like a lightbox and can be used to refine rough sketches. It’s a very handy tool. The ruler guides and grids help draw straight lines and help draw in perspective. There is also a text tool, fill tool, transform tool, and a bunch of layer bend modes.

ArtRage also has drawing tablet support and pressure sensitivity. My setup for drawing in ArtRage is a little non conventional. I call it the poor man’s Cintiq. I use the Splashtop Remote Desktop HD app to connect to my desktop PC with my Samsung Galaxy Note tablets. Then I can draw and paint in PC programs and still be painting on the picture. Because I am a traditional painter, I do not like to paint on a blank tablet and look up at the screen. In this setup, I don’t have pressure sensitivity, but I just adjust the size of the line manually. If you can afford a Cintiq, Surface Pro, or Cintiq Companion, by all means get one. I hear they are awesome, but if you are on a budget and want an alternative you might try my setup. This setup works best with bigger tablets like the Note 10.1 or 12.2, but it can be used with smaller tablets like the Note 8 too.  It will also work with other android tablets or ipads, but make sure you get a good drawing stylus. For more information about these topics check out my article on Hubpages at
Here is an example of a painting I created this way in ArtRage 4 using the ink pens.


Prints of “Cat with a Leaf Design” can be found at

You can get ArtRage at
Also check out this website for some really good video tutorials.