I agree with your opinion about digital art, it's not easier, it demands the same amount of effort and training as any other médium, but it definately has some things that help a bit, specially crtl+z ahah and the ability to add elements and colors after finishing a work, like it happens with rain. I personally find digital art scary it seems so hard, and it's simply not my area of comfort at all and I've never tried it. As for pen, I understand most people's concern and intimadation by it, I personally find it the most freeing medium to be used. Maybe painting can be freeing too, but I have tried it too little times to be able to say.
I actually use very little short cuts or elements when I paint digitally.. my rain is painted 'manually' actually.. the only automatic fuctions I use with some regularity is the contrasts and occasional textures for cloth and the like.. but even then I'm learning to alternate brushes for that effect...
my biggest overwhelming sense of gratitude is the ability to erase and save multiple copies... cuts time faster because I'm not inhibited by the worry of making mistakes and of course the brushes.. which I'm beginning to vary now..
I like pen.. my brother uses it for stippling... but man,... it is so time consuming!!!