thanks well, what really helps in a speedpainting is to have as few strokes (and undos... >.> )as possible. this is nearly impossible with an animal with a generous length of fur! the smudge tool helps out in this case. keeping it at 75-78% pressure usually gives the effect I want.
as for the text and border... I wish I could do text formatting more often though I'm not quick at it. I relish in it. so much that, Kern is afraid to let me do the text bubbles for the comic in fear that I may spend a whole evening on it.