Police Sketches of Literary Characters Based on Their Book Descriptions

A great author paints a picture with words of their character's physical appearance. Often, there is painstaking attention paid to the descriptions, with the chosen attributes helping shape a subject's personality and, by extension, the novel. If the book is made into a movie, these carefully-selected details can be ignored–suddenly, the two might not match. Artist and filmmaker Brian Joseph Davis demonstrates this with The Composites, his ongoing project that produces police sketches based on what the book descriptions suggest.

Davis created the images using commercially available law enforcement sketch software. He manipulated the black and white images to fit the author's vision, and it's fascinating to see the words come to life with the hi-tech program.

The Composites also illustrates just how different a film's characterization can be compared to the text. Some of these side-by-side juxtapositions look similar, like The Talented Mr. Ripley–actor Matt Damon appears as author Patricia Highsmith had originally pictured him. This isn't the case, however, with The Monster in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley‘s novel Frankenstein. The movie version of this character looks much more grotesque and less human than his literary counterpart.

After a long hiatus, Davis will continue creating new composites in February of this year. Check out his past sketches, where he honors the work of Flannery O' Connor, Cormac McCarthy, S.E. Hinton, and many more.

Above: Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins

Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, written by Stieg Larsson

Jack Torrance, The Shining, written by Stephen King

Annie Wilkes, Misery, written by Stephen King

Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Lux Lisbon, The Virgin Suicides, written by Jeffrey Eugenides

Count Dracula, Dracula, written by Bram Stoker

Marla Singer, Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk

Norman Bates, Psycho, written by Robert Bloch

Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley, written by Patricia Highsmith

Javert, Les Misrables, written by Victor Hugo

Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey, written by E. L. James

The Monster, Frankenstein, written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Composites: Website
Brian J. Davis: Website
via [theCHIVE, StumbleUpon]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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