As I felt when I first opened Escape Motions' Rebelle 2, I find myself in a nice, clean and sexy UI with Flame Painter 3. All the panels you need to work are there, and you can float them or dock them as you like. What I miss is the welcome screen with the quick tutorial that Rebelle 2 comes with.
Onto a little playing-with-everything session to get a feel for what can be done, you get the idea pretty fast, thanks to the preset brushes that come with the program. But that doesn't necessarily mean you get used to the way the brushes behave just as quickly. They feel weird!
You have to make a conscious effort to move around, make a stroke, stop and wait, and see what happens, to associate that with the move you made. This is because of the very nature of Flame Painter - this is no ordinary painting program. You're painting with a dynamic, procedural brush engine here, so it's only natural the experience will be different than we're used to. Having said that, once you played for a while, you start to understand, intuitively.
Wings Series by ellenm1
Speaking of brush engines, after fiddling a bit with the presets, I started playing with the different brush parameters. It's good they are not overwhelming and after a while I got excited about the possibilities. I also liked the fact that you can go to their website and get many more brush presets that are available for download, and get this: you can click on any one you like, and you can drag and drop it directly into the open program! That's great!
Saving a preset is easy, and you make the icon yourself with your own strokes.
The Pro version also comes with the ability to make vector layers, which allows you to manipulate the stroke after the fact via different tools. Very useful to achieve specific results, like effects for an imported image. I must say, though, I'd like to be able to manipulate nodes like in bezier curves, which is something that's not available. You just move the points individually or by group.
Journey of helios by Harvey Bunda
When it comes to colors, you can use plain swatches or gradients for the brushes, which is great because it gives you control when you need it and also fun fluidity when you want to make more fantasy layers.
I found a pleasant surprise: you can activate Filter--> Tile Layer, which will make the layer wrap around while you work so you can create seamless images. Yay! Being a long time seamless backgrounds maker, I truly value this feature. I wish there was a way, though, even if it wasn't in real time, to see the layer tiling, so I can better judge my composition.