I’m new to the “scene” of Fire Emblem hacking, I’ve seen some projects here and there, and I have to ask… why do so many hacks use the FE GBA style of portraits? I understand that it’s easy to mix-and-match portraits from the three different games (Mareeta pointed some out to me as I played through The Last Promise). Surely, though, there are people with the art talent to draw in an original style…? Not that I have a problem with it but I’m curious.
not an artist myself however I think it’s very easy to see why so few hacks have an “original” art style. Firstly you have to consider that 90% of romhacks don’t have a singular portrait artist and most don’t even have the portraits specifically made for the hack. If the portrait maker isn’t the hack creator themselves, that’s a lot of time to dedicate to one hack for free, or on the other hand it’s a lot of money the creator is spending to have one artist make an entire hacks worth of portraits.
On another side of the spectrum those who make portraits in a completely new style for the repo won’t have their work used much due to it clashing with 90% of the other portraits in the repo.
Also people general have a distaste for artistic clash when it comes to the aesthetics of a hack, so if a few portraits were in a radically different art style in a hack where that wouldn’t make sense those portraits would stick out like a sore thumb and some wouldn’t like how much they stick out.
Overall I can sum it up to saying that it’s just not practical.
Again I am not an artist myself so this is all from the point of view from someone who has a general understanding of how most hacks are developed and someone who uses F2U/E assets in their own hack.
portraits in a radically different art style will clash with the rest of the game’s graphics, leading down a rabbit hole of redoing every graphical asset in the game, which, while impressive, would also be a crazy amount of work for a single person, when instead you can do gbafe styled portraits and not change the rest of the game to match in considerably less time comparatively
There really isn’t a coherent style consistency between the portraits and the rest of the game outside of the general color palettes and some aspects of the clothing design matching the class design. It’s just what’s expected. There shouldn’t be a problem using a custom style as long as it’s consistent across the portraits and the colors aren’t wildly lighter or darker than the rest of the game.
The reason custom art styles aren’t common across FE8 hacks is convenience. Most ROM hackers aren’t focused on the art of their characters as much as the story or gameplay, so they’ll either swipe a portrait from the repo or splice a custom one. There’s a large selection to choose from when it comes to FE8-styled portraits in the repository, hence the increased amount of default-styled portraits used. I’d guarantee you that if any other FE game was the norm like FE4 or 5, then you’d see a tidal wave of portraits styled like those games in the repo.
When it comes to people who are skilled at making art outside of hacks, it’s mostly either because the style is traditional or the artist likes how the style looks. It’s their choice at the end of the day. Custom artwork that is actually designed for hacks on the other hand is going to match the default style as it’s consistent, and there are plenty of references available for FE8 style art.
I agree that FE8 style portraits are overrepresented, but that really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the focus of this forum on FE8 hacking. The style of GBAFE portraits (6 and 7 in particular) is actually pretty similar to what Thracia 776 already tried, just upscaled, brightened, and given shoulders.