BIG UPDATE. I have done a lot of texturing in the past few days. I ended up spending more time on the guitar antique than I should have (3 hours) but it was fun, and it looks good. The antiques have been the most fun to texture because dirt and scratches always add character. I have been a lot better this time around about not using the generic dirt generators in substance painter. I create my own black masks with a mixture of painting, procedurals, and smart masks.
I typically start texturing a mesh by baking additional maps like curvature, ambient occlusion, and thickness. Then I create a “base” layer (plastic, metal, wood). I spend a lot of time using black masks to paint in different materials on different parts of the mesh. I then add scratches, dirt and dents. I typically use an environment map with neutral lighting, such as any of the studio environments.
With some props I have specific reference to work with – like the guitar and camera. Because some of the props my group modeled used specific reference pictures, I am able to look at the same reference pictures to help my texturing.
Sometimes I try to pace myself and I end up forgetting scratches, or forgetting to bake the additional maps. Time management is the hardest part of this project.