Crystal structures of solvated unsymmetrically substituted meso-tetraphenylporphyrins, 2,3,12,13,17-pentachloro-5,7,8,10,15,18,20-hepta-phenylporphyrin, H2TPP(Ph)3(Cl)5, 1 and its nickel(II), NiTPP(Ph)3(Cl)5, 2 were determined by single crystal XRD analysis. In addition, a new unsymmetrically substituted porphyrin, 2,3,12,13,17-pentacyano-5,7,8,10,15,18,20-heptaphenyl-porphinato nickel(II) complex, NiTPP(Ph)3(CN)5, 3 complex was synthesized and its solvated structure was examined by crystallography. These porphyrins exhibited dramatic nonplanar conformation of the macrocycle as evidenced from the average displacement of the β-pyrrole carbon (±ΔCβ) from the mean plane of the porphyrin ring and the trend in nonplanarity varies in the order: 2 (1.189(5) Å) > 1 (1.036(6) Å) > 3 (0.895(6) Å). The normal-coordinate structural decomposition analysis of these structures revealed mainly saddle distortion of the macrocycle combined with small degree of ruffled or domed distortions. The Hirshfeld surface analysis of structures 1-3 revealed solvate dependent intermolecular contacts with varying degree of H …H (43–49%), C …H (17–19%), H …Cl (25–30%) and N …H (∼19%) contact contributions. [Figure not available: see fulltext.] © 2016, Indian Academy of Sciences.