Hey man, thanks a lot for your comment it's much appreciated ^^.
I get what you're saying about the studies. Most of the time i find them boring myself and the end results will never look as good as the original. But i strongly believe it's one of the best ways to improve so i keep at it.
It's also a good way to counter art blocks. You can always do a copy of someone elses art when you have no inspiration and you're staring at your canvas/screen with nothing to draw yourself. This way you force yourself to have no excuses haha ^^.
As for my technique i mostly use the color picker and Marc's Square brush to smooth things out myself. I love how you can still kinda see the brushstrokes after blending that way. It's just a style preferance. Marc's explains this technique in his tutorial 'Getting started with digital painting' and he uses it pretty much every time he paints.
Hope this helps and thanks again :).