Learning curve for creating materials

Over the last few months I’ve been struggling to create effective materials for my models and I’m hoping someone here might help me understand how to approach the learning curve.

At first I was using the traditional texturing approach where I would create a texture for each input, base, normal, etc… But looking at some of the example assets they often take a different approach. For example I often see a masking approach using RGB channels.

Most of the time when I look at the example assets I think to myself, “how on earth did they come to that set of nodes”.

I’ve watched many material tutorial videos but most of them are extremely basic relative to some of the asset examples…

Has anyone had the same experience? Could someone hold my hand and tell me its okay lol?