I find BGII portraits artistically inferior to BG1 and Icewind Dale but full of personality - which is after all the point of a portrait. You can tell a lot about the character just by looking at them, whereas BG1 is less personal and ID practically stock fantasy.
IWD's portraits ARE stock fantasy - the party is nothing but empty shells, and you have to provide all of the personality yourself. I don't mind doing that for CHARNAME or the Nameless One, but for a whole party of six? I don't think so.
Anyways, my first party (and my current standard) is the canon party from BG2. That said, I've been known to use Ajantis, Branwen, Coran, Kivan, Yeslick, and even Viconia in my good-aligned parties on occasion. I've never been able to play an evil character in either game, as not only do you get fewer rewards, but I simply feel like a d*** for playing that way. My BG2 party moves around between games; all of the good and neutral characters get a turn, but my standards are usually Minsc, Keldorn, Anomen, Yoshimo, Imoen, and Aerie, with Minsc being replaced by the ToB-exclusive character once I hit that point.