Rebelle 7 review: the most impressive painting software I've used

As a first-time user, our pro artist is dazzled by Rebelle 7.

Rebelle 7 review; a digital painting of gold metallic leafs
(Image: © Future / Hazel Mead)

Our Verdict

Easy to navigate with plenty to explore, Rebelle 7 Pro stands out as an excellent all-rounder, from traditional artists ready to dip into the world of digital painting, to professional digital artists who could do with shaking up their usual workflow. Shiny new metallic materials catch the eye.

For

  • Stunning paint simulations
  • Great transform and deform tools
  • Pro-level resize and export feature
  • Crowd-pleasing metallic materials

Against

  • Pro features need a powerful processor to run properly

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Rebelle 7 specs

Rebelle 7 review; a painting of a golden leaf

(Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

Price Rebelle 7 Pro (reviewed) $149.99 / £129.99, Rebelle 7 $89.99 / £77.99
OS Windows, macOS
Developer Escape Motions
Release Out now
Features Oil and acrylic impasto, real watercolour simulation, metallic materials, ruler and perspective tools, masking tools, pigment colour mixing, 250 brush presets and brush creator, Structures

Escape Motion's Rebelle 7 Pro is a hyper-realistic painting software that seeks to replicate the experience of traditional painting and drawing, minus the mess, fumes and drying times. 

This digital art software has been around for some time, and is a close competitor to Corel Painter, and like that software it's focus on simulating paints, including how they mix, dry and react to papers and canvases, ensures its a more specialised app than Photoshop. Read our Rebelle 6 review for how the previous version measured up.

This latest edition, Rebelle 7, features brand new metallic materials, over 250 brushes, filter layers for non-destructive editing and ultra-realistic papers and canvases and 'structures' to add texture to your artistic creations. Rebelle 7 costs $89.99 / £77.99 for the standard edition and $149.99 / £129.99 for the Pro edition as a one-time purchase – half the price of its rival Corel Painter, and very reasonable when you consider its impressive features. 

Rebelle 7 review: opening for the first time

Rebelle 7 review; a digital watercolour painting of a house with the northern lights

Varied selection of brushes and plenty of options for advanced customisation with ‘visual settings’. (Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

I'm familiar with many types of digital art software but I've not used Rebelle before, so my review is written from a from a new user's perspective. On downloading and opening Rebelle 7, I find the UI is intuitive and has a familiar feel to both rivals Procreate and Adobe Fresco (my go-to drawing app), so if you use those, you'll adapt to Rebelle quickly. 

I find the UI is intuitive and has a familiar feel to both rivals Procreate and Adobe Fresco

For complete newcomers to digital painting, getting started is easy and stress free; you can pick a canvas, a brush, a colour and get painting straight away. The UI has easy to use features such as a colour mixing palette, grids and rulers and supports multi-touch gestures if you're using Rebelle 7 on a supported drawing tablet (Windows and iOS).

It's simple to get going with, but the visual settings to control behaviour of brushes, paints and canvas offer options and features for those who want them and mean pros can really dig into the settings while newcomers can mess around and still get great results. 

You can tweak so much, from creating new brushes to adjusting how paint and watercolours dry on the canvas and papers; you can even 'blow dry' paints to adjust direction.

Rebelle 7 review: my favourite features

Rebelle 7 review; a leaf painting is resized in a digital art app

Nano pixel technology lets you zoom with ultra definition to the fibres of the paper.  (Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

The painting simulation technology, including watercolours, gouache, oil and acrylics impress immediately, and are the most realistic I've come across. Especially when combined with the ultra-realistic papers and canvases.  

Rather than simply adding the appearance of a texture beneath the painting, these surfaces affect how the paint reacts. The watercolours and gouache bleed and layer beautifully. Developer Escape Motions has even included a masking fluid function, to preserve layers beneath. 

I love the detail of a charcoal dust brush, which perfectly captures those little specks that flake off a charcoal stick

There is a decent selection of pixel brushes, and I love the detail of a charcoal dust brush, which perfectly captures those little specks that flake off a charcoal stick. The traditional painter's experience has been carefully considered. 

I'm pleased to see that equal thought has gone to the professional digital artists, who often turn to digital software for its editing capabilities. One of the drawbacks to working with raster images is limited ability to rescale artwork without pixelation or having to re-draw. Rebelle 7 Pro's fractal image resizing allows for rescaling from A4 to A0, and transforming the image while also maintaining the quality, which is honestly a game-changer for raster-based artists.

Rebelle 7 review: latest tools and additions

Rebelle 7 review; a mix of leafs painted in a digital art app

Metallic materials and structures create new textural possibilities.  (Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

Brand new to Rebelle 7 Pro are the metallic materials. They are a fun addition to bring some extra wow-factor and dimension to your art. You can move the canvas to adjust where the light hits, and when you're happy lock that reflectivity in for a unique finish.

An important to note, these metallic materials only work with certain oil brushes, but the workaround is to use other brushes, such as watercolour or blending over the top to achieve greater variety of effects with the metallics. Perhaps we'll see some more versatility in the next version. 

The delightful Structures feature adds texture and dimension and replicates the experience of charcoal rubbings or frottage. I was able to import my own images and use those to add texture. 

Other new features you can take advantage of include a handy elliptical ruler, a brush creator to develop your desired textural brush and you can now import SVG files and use the vector objects as paths.

Rebelle 7 review: performance

Rebelle 7 review; golden metallic paints

Metallic materials and watercolour technologies lag when used together on less powerful processors.  (Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

With so much simulation happening, and now the new metallic materials that use raytracing, Rebelle 7 does need a powerful processor to run everything smoothly. Escape Motions recommends 4GB RAM as a minimum, but the developer does suggest 16GB RAM is preferable for a smooth experience. 

I can see why too, I ran Rebelle 7 on my 8GB MacBook Air v12.5, and it worked well, but drastically lagged when combining metallic paint with watercolour - perfectly fair as there is so much going on here, and the feature is so new. There is a lot of powerful technology at work in these two functions, and they require more processing power. 

Rebelle 7 review: should I buy it?

Rebelle 7 review; drops of paint mix in a digital art art

Rebelle 7 Pro impresses, but you may need to upgrade your laptop. Rebelle 7 Standard is more forgiving. (Image credit: Future / Hazel Mead)

If your style doesn't require an organic, textured, painterly feel I think there are some cheaper, simpler alternatives that cover what you need. For digital painters, professionals and hobbyists, Rebelle 7 Pro has the best painting simulation I've seen and used so far and I'll be using it for my digital painting going forward (sorry Adobe Fresco). 

If you're considering whether to invest in the standard or Pro version, the new metallics are nice to have but not essential, however it's the ability to increase images at by 16 times larger for export and the ability to transform images without losing quality, which for me, makes the Pro version worth spending the extra.

Currently Escape Motions has a discount on both the Standard and Pro versions, so you can get Rebelle 7 Standard for $62.99 / £54.99 and Pro for $99.99 / £89.99. There are also bundle deals that include Rebelle 7 and Flame Painter 4, the particle brush VFX painting software, for £112.99. If you have any doubts, you can try Rebelle 7 for free.

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The Verdict
9

out of 10

Rebelle 7

Easy to navigate with plenty to explore, Rebelle 7 Pro stands out as an excellent all-rounder, from traditional artists ready to dip into the world of digital painting, to professional digital artists who could do with shaking up their usual workflow. Shiny new metallic materials catch the eye.

Hazel Mead
Illustrator

After studying Fine art and Illustration at Coventry University I pursued my childhood dream of becoming an illustrator. I love combining beautiful imagery and diverse characters with meaning and story, and often create social commentary images that tackle taboos. As an ideas generator I enjoy the process of using illustration to solve clients' communication needs. Hazel's clients include Netflix, Adobe and Facebook.