So, for the time being this is the final render. I'd like to come back to this project after a bit of a break. I've been grinding on this pretty hard for the last month and a half and it be nice to come back to this after a bit of a break with some fresh eyes.
The texture masks were done in substance painter and being able just to do slight edits on them in substance and then just re-import them into unreal was a god sent. in the process gif a lot of the edits were just touching up the masks and making slight changes to them. its an extremely satisfying work flow once you got it all set up and you can just go for it. You also get so much out of the texel density I really couldn't see an argument for not working this way.
The decals were also super satisfying as well! I love the work flow of just modeling to a mid to high level and then just tossing on a bunch of normals decals for all that extra goodness. I'm not sure if the guys at Cloud Imperium Games were the first one to do something like this but geez it so fun to work this way. You should check out this blog post on polycount they do a way better job of explaining it than I would.
Special thanks to Jeremy Estrellado for giving me a whole lot of guidance and feedback on this project and be sure to check out the DiNusty Empire for the best 3D art community on the net!