Thank you for posting this, i really do appreciate your time and interest. I also have to agree that there are a lot of good points in what you said. However i dissagree on the 'you're studing almost the same identical stuff' part. Or maybe it is true, but i don't think it's a bad thing. On the contrary.
I believe that a lot of people think that doing one or two studies on a given subject is enough. I know such people in real life. But that's usually not the case. Say you want to learn anatomy. What you do is you grab an anatomy book and copy every single picture in there. But you don't draw a bicept then a tricept then a trapezius and then you're done. You draw every single picture again and again and again until you can draw it correctly without looking at any referance. It is a process that requires months doing that but it is the best way to learn if not the only one.
This is kinda what i'm doing with these studies aswell. I'll find a character or creature that has say, some rocks on him. I'll do a copy of it. Then i'll find another character or creature with similar rocky surfaces or textures on him. I'll do the lineart then i'll try to paint and render him without looking at my referance trying to apply what i learned from the copy i did before. When i think i'm done i pull up the referance and see how i did. If it doesn't look good enough (which is usually the case on the first try) i'll do another one.
I do that for every texture and material i can find. Soft surfaces, hard surfaces, cloth, skin, bone, rock... the list goes on and on. Of course with each one of them i try to push the rendering more and more.
And there are o lot of reasons why i'm not trying to practise those things by applying them on original characters.
First, having the original piece to make comparisons with will help you notice your mistakes immidietly. It will also let you correct them and understand where you went wrong more easily.
Second, doing this also helps build a visual library. (at least i think it does)
And lastly it allows you to focus on one thing at a time. See, my goal with these is to improve my painting skills. Spending hours on a design first would only make this progress so much slower. And no matter how good the painting, if the design is crap the overall picture is going to look bad too. So i feel like you it's harder to objectively see if you've improved or not in that particular skill. This is also why i've been painting a lot of portraits and such.
That been said yes, there are also people stuck in that phase for unnecessarily long periods of time. I do plan on studying concepting and design feverishly in the months to come. I may also create a deviantart profile or something. Anyway. Thanks again for the post .