So I'm doing this very realistics and precises models for work, of organic looking bags and jewelry. This are for upclose products shot, I model everything but the stitches (for the bags) which I do with textures.
I'm doing the modeling and unwrapping in Blender, then going to Substance Painter for texturing and back to Blender for rendering in Cycles. Modeling-wise I use standard subdivision modifier technique for almost everything. Regarding texturing I'm not baking normals, I'm just texturing the high poly directly in SP since this are complex models with tons of parts (so tons of textures and cages to tweak) and baking normals on a low poly would give me some faceting on curved edges.
Performance-wise it's not too bad, except for the unwrapping, which is what I'd like some insight with. Right now I'm applying all my modifiers and unwrap my meshs to get between 3 and 4 texture sets (I use a lot more in SP but combine them later). So at the end the model has 3 or 4*8k textures in Blender to get very sharp PBR details.
Because I apply all modifiers before unwrapping it's a very tedious process. I think this time I'll try to unwrap the base mesh and then apply subdivison and bevel modifier, and see how it looks. I use Smart UV unwrapping (it's an auto-project similar to other softwares) in Blender since there is no way I'm gonna do the seams by hand with all that geometry, bevels, details, etc. I kind of guide the Smart UV with my own seams when it can't figure out how to properly unwrap but that's about it.
How could I improve upon this? How could I make the workflow less destructive and more fun?