Why I Hate Splicing (and Why You Should Custom)

Before I start, this doesn’t mean I hate people who splice. I know several people who are great individuals, and even pull splicing off very well. This is more so directed to newer or less experienced spriters.

This will be very disorganized, as it’s 3 inches loose of being a rant.

I won’t beat around the bush. A lot of this chalks up to splices lacking the originality and charm of custom works.
My main issue with most splices is that its recognizable as a splice. There are so many look alike splices that, if you showed me a bunch of them, I wouldn’t be able to pick out who did what for even one of them. They just look so generic 98% of the time.

Alright now for some more in-depth reasons.

I believe it’s actually detrimental to the learning process of portraiting. It’s very difficult to improve through it because there is such a low skill ceiling because of its simple concept. This results in an incredibly slow improvement, often unnoticeable.
You’re working with pieces you don’t quite understand and trying to mismatch them together, rather than learning the shaping and innerworkings of those pieces.
You can’t develop a proper understanding of anti-aliasing because so much of it is done for it, and as many know, I believe anti-aliasing is the most important fundamental in GBA portraiting.
You’re not learning proportions or anatomy outside of “this head looks too big on this body, let’s find a different one”.
You’re not learning detailing outside of racking your head trying to clean up a messy area once or twice every portrait.

The biggest defense for splicing I get is “I dont have experience in drawing or art in general.” The thing is, starting out, you don’t have to. Pixel art is a different medium than drawing, and though a lot of skills and fundamentals carry over, it’s perfectly valid to learn those skills and fundamentals through pixel art.
Even if the results looks like the inside of a Serbian jail toliet, you’ll learn much more through the process of customing, and with one mug, you’ll probably have learned more than you did with 3 splices.

Customing may be more difficult, especially for beginners, but if you’re going to invest time in spriting, why would you waste so much so much of it at minimal improvement through splicing?

This last point is more of a personal issue, but I’m sure other spriters can relate. If you’ve stepped a foot into Spritans or my sprite thread, you know I love helping people and giving tips and critique. Unfortunately, I rarely, if ever, offer my help to splicers, unless I know they can do something with my help. However, because of reasons like splices looking generic and lookalike and the skill ceiling being so low, I find it difficult to gauge whether or not my help would be worth the effort. With customing on the other hand, it is very apparent where one’s skill level is. Even at the most beginner levels, you can at least somewhat recognize someone’s strong points and weaknesses, and most importantly, their potential for growth. These are the people I love to help, because they are at the perfect point to recieve it, and I know very quickly if my help is 1. Helpful or not, and 2. Worth my own time or not.

Not sure how to end it, but there you go. Splicing bad and you learn slow. Customing hard but you learn fast.

I’m very sorry for how unorganized this is. I hope you can see where I’m coming from. If you have any objections or questions, please feel free to post them, and I’ll try to get to them when I can!~


I am feeling so attacked right now


This just in, a busky man with musky-man musk destroys an entire community with facts and logic.

We’ll report on the aftermath at 11, Steven. Ho boy, will there be fires to put out.


I hope this is a joke, cuz that was very far from my intention.


Also consider that there’s a lot of people who want something that isn’t a vanilla portrait for their hackrom, and splicing is the fastest way to achieve that end - even if it isn’t the highest quality art or easy for any of us who stares at the same 100 or so mugs all the time to figure out which parts were used.

I think splicing as a practice is fine and it can help you learn the ropes of how the GBA sprites look. I also think any person who splices is making custom tweaks to pre-existing parts to better enhance how they look and clean them up. It isn’t fair to assume that those who splice don’t do any custom work. Everyone who makes art in this community generally has the same aim of making something for the purpose of adding custom flair to their game - this should be celebrated, not belittled because they lift pre-existing parts to make these “Custom” sprites.

If you want to encourage more custom work, I’d recommend you make a guide instead of saying that splicing is bad and customs are good?


pointlessly inflammatory thread of the week


I’ve learnt what a Serbian jail toilet looks like.


man i love community tag threads


the energy of making this post should’ve been directed to make a guide about how to make custom sprites instead of this tbh

idk how to feel about this, since I can say that I grow a lot from splicing
i’m not directing malice here for the record, i just want this to get out from my mind


The first paragraph was something I forgot to mention in my original post. If people want something non-vanilla, there are plenty of F2U portraits in repos and threads that are free to recolor, and even some F2E stuff to get a little closer to what you want. This is not only faster, but also higher quality.

And splicing as intial practice is perfectly fine, maybe I got a bit caught up on the hate train there. I’ve just seen so many people stuck in splicing for so long with very minimal improvement, and it’s very unfortunate.

I guess I’ve moved a bit past making custom flair for hacks nowadays and focus more on just making pretty art, so apologies for the disconnect, probably should have considered that a little more.

As for guides, I’ve considered it, but a lot of it is subjective, and it would be very time consuming.

1 Like

I was going to say something similar to this. While sometimes I draw things like clothing and hair by hand, I normally splice. I feel like it gives the artist a feel for the art they’re making. Due to experimenting with splicing they have an idea on how to do things like add plated armor and shoulder pads.

Also it saves a lot of time. There are many characters in most hacks, FE8 having I believe around 25 playable characters. In order to draw all 25 playable characters along with the tens of villains and side characters can be exhausting.

Also while you don’t have to, because you shouldnt do what you don’t enjoy, I think it is good to help new spriters even if they only splice. It is just that enjoyment of getting help by someone you may possibly look up to.

TAKE THAT!! Muahahahah


I really think that it’s not that deep.

Hacking already takes a lot of time and requires learning a lot of skills. You gotta learn how to navigate Builder or use Buildfiles, you gotta learn how to event, you gotta learn map design, you gotta know how to fine tune and properly balance, and so on. For many people it isn’t about learning an art form so much as it is just getting something that looks unique in their hackrom. It would have taken me months or years to make a good looking custom mug, while I made my first splice that I deemed passable in like what, a week?

Many people think that splices look fine, or are charming, or just want their mugs to fit in next to F2U and vanilla ones. If you personally think splices are boring and unoriginal, well, that’s unfortunate, but many people just aren’t going to dedicate that much time to a singular cog inside the massive machine that is a hack.


Has splicing become the FEBuilder of art methods? Find out next time on dragon’s ball zee


On one hand, I get that splices tend to look cheap and unprofessional. On the other, I’ve found them quite good as placeholders for better stuff, and they’re far faster to assemble and more convenient for people like me who want to get a fun game out the door more quickly without having to get excessively bogged down in the visuals department. (On that note, I kind of feel like this community overvalues art stuff, but that’s something for another day.)

Granted, some of you might already know I’m using SRPG Studio and not even planning to use GBAFE-style portraits in the finished project, but I figured I should toss something in here anyway.


Consider that not everyone wants to dedicate time to learning how to make custom art, and that they’re satisfied with their skill level, even if that is lower than you think their potential is.

All good. The vast majority of people are probably creating for a specific purpose or also doing hacking on top of art. I know I want to get through art as quickly as possible, which is why I splice something of barely acceptable quality - it’s not my focus nor what I really enjoy (unfortunately)

I don’t think you should complain about splices then if you aren’t going to offer a scalable way for people to learn how to make custom art. What are you gaining from putting people who splice down? If you think something is bad, offer your expertise to help make it better.


Okay, but the portrait repo didn’t exist until last year, I basically didn’t touch it at all and let others run it, and has only become actually organized and navigable in the last week.

So you know… it wasn’t really an option for 95% of the community’s existence. Most people just used Nickt’s mugs or maybe one of two other spriters mugs, since theirs were the only easily obtainable F2U resources. And many spriters, possibly most, told people ‘oc donut steel’ so those of any decent quality were off the table.

Thus, people spliced, because it made for a decent non-vanilla option. Sometimes less than decent, but I digress.


Customs have a much, much steeper learning curve than splicing, especially initially. It will likely take far more time to make a custom of acceptable, insertable quality than it would to try your hand at splicing. I think this is witnessed by the fact that I could maybe count on my fingers and toes the amount of people in this community that do custom work at a high level. If it were easy… more people would do it. Plain and simple.

As a solo hack developer, I simply don’t have time to invest in making customs, when splices are plenty serviceable. I have to event, write, make maps, playtest, and do a host of other things. The time investment isn’t worth it. Nevermind my deficit in the artistic/spatial department to begin with.


Placeholders were another thing I forgot to mention. They work fine as placeholders, but why not just use F2U mugs that fill the same purpose instead of wasting time on making the placeholder? This goes beyond just splicing and more spriting in general.

The irony of ‘people should invest time in learning to custom’ and ‘making a tutorial on spriting is too time consuming’ is utterly palpable


I do agree that it’s a slower learning process than custom though,
I believe i’m a good example, iirc (correct me if i’m wrong) we, Busk and I, started spriting 2 years ago at around the same time and i believe everybody would say that Busk do really good custom pieces with this 2 years and… I splice and edit a bit, i started my first custom piece from scratch yesterday actually.

You could just say that Busk is more talented than me (which is the case) or that he’s a better learner, my point is that he has 2 years of custom experience and that made him a better spriter who has an actual style.

I still really love splicing because i never splice with an idea in mind, when i splice i just go crazy and random, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s trash, but the unexpected outcome is really fun to me.