if you right-click on a sop there's a command called "save texture image" that will save an image with your uv's stamped on it. that makes a nice reference to add as a layer for easier texture painting. btw, with this I often prefer to smudge the texture to fit into a nice laid out uv set than to move lots of uv points around to fit a texture.
the unwrap sop is great too. using the optinal second input for custom planes to unwrap to is great. Saves a lot of time. In other software i'd have to make several custom ortho projections, then battle them to fit and the overlapping. beware that unwrap makes one region of continuous uvs per plane, so you'll have seams. It does well with more or less homogeneous textures.
another option i use is to modify the source geometry then apply one simple projection. For example a head has lots of concave and convex surfaces that will give you overlapping with one single spherical or cylindrical proj. I use the smooth sop to even out a bit the surface, then the ray sop projecting the head halfway towards a bounding sphere turns out well. Then just need to copy this uv attrib to the original geometry.
for skeletal deformation there's just so many solutions (joint, arm, limb, etc) but these are a bit on the vintage side . i think the best start is using bones and the more standard tools. there are 2 capture methods and two weight editing methods, so there's plenty of flexibility there.
There are no "dedicated" deformers a la mirai or i guess maya, but no problem either, we got lattices, metaballs-bulge and more. Alex showed me a nice scene with custom bone-driven blends (still got it to show?). In my case I try to rely more on houdini's solution but I'd like it to have more than one behavior to choose from. In softimage I could choose from bycep, finger behavior and the like. I mean, those behaviours were built-in into the bone object and the distribution of the bone's "force field" changed with each.