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See Police Sketches Of Literary Characters Made Using Book Descriptions

The Composites Tumblr reveals what police sketches of famous literary characters would look like if the artist only had the books to go on.

  • <p>5’6…Not once ounce of excess fat…The left ear much bigger than the right, and malformed, but her hair always covers her ears…Lips formed a tight straight line…Small narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows…[Face is a] Pleasing oval shape…Extreme paucity of expression.</p>
  • <p>Her body was big but not generous…Her hair like some battered helmet…Her hair fungus-frowzy around her face…Grinning rictus…He thought Misery was a wonderful name for a pig. He remembered how she had imitated it, the way her upper lip had wrinkled toward her nose, how her cheeks had seemed to flatten…The impervious prow of her face…If he had been a farmer observing a sky which looked the way Annie's face looked right now, he would have at once gone to collect his family and herd them into the storm cellar. Her brow was too white. Her nostrils flared regularly, like the nostrils of an animal scenting fire…That stony, obdurate look covered her face like a mask…Only her eyes, those tarnished dimes, were fully alive under the shelf of her brow.</p>
  • <p>The man was young, blond, with his long blond hair whipping in the wind from cars blasting past them. He had a red goatee and scars cut sideways across both cheeks, just under his eyes. The scars were dark red, and the young man reached into the garbage bag with the dead dog and told the crew—it wasn’t dead…In the snapshots people take, in the videos, it’s always the flying blond hair, the red goatee, the scars. It’s always the same man…The details about Oyster are his hair, it looks shattered, the way a pine tree looks struck by lightning, splintered blond and standing up in every direction…His eyes are white. It’s not the white of white flags, surrender. It’s the white of hardboiled eggs, crippled chickens in battery cages, factory farm misery and suffering and death.</p>
  • <p>“I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry mouth; I desired to be tall, stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked…“Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,” said he: “truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf? Is this my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled cheek and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant hazel eyes?” (I had green eyes, reader; but you must excuse the mistake: for him they were new-dyed, I suppose)… Having ascertained that I was myself in my usual Quaker trim, where there was nothing to retouch—all being too close and plain, braided locks included.”</p>
  • <p>“His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.”</p>
  • <p>He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them…His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze, and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini’s cast Perseus…Threading its way out from among his grey hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing, you saw a slender rod-like mark… branded… What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more…His eyes like powder-pans… It almost seemed that while he himself was marking out lines and courses on the wrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was also tracing lines and courses upon the deeply marked chart of his forehead…His firm lips met like the lips of a vice; the delta of his forehead’s veins swelled like overladen brooks…Supper he never touched; nor reaped his beard; which darkly grew all gnarled, as unearthed roots of trees blown over, which still grow idly on at naked base.</p>
  • <p>“A pale, skinny young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows. She had a wasp tattoo about an inch long on her neck…On those occasions when she had been wearing a tank top, a dragon tattoo can be seen on her left shoulder blade. Her natural hair colour was red, but she had dyed it ivory black…Crooked smile.”</p>
  • <p>A tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache…His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead…His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking…For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin…The blue eyes transformed with fury.</p>
  • <p>Narrow, deeply wrinkled forehead… His patched and repatched tunic rolled off his shoulder and revealed his body—thin… The fluff about his chin and cheeks had become a curly coal-black beard. His nose was hooked, his lips thick…It was not a beautiful face, but it had a hidden, disquieting charm. Were his eyelashes to blame? Thick and exceedingly long… Or were his eyes responsible? They were large and black, full of light, full of darkness—all intimidation and sweetness. Flickering like those of a snake, they stared at you from between the long lashes, and your head reeled.</p>
  • <p>Just in time for Bloomsday this weekend, I’m happy to announce an upcoming exhibition of “The Composites” at the Illuminations gallery of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.  The all-digitally screened exhibition will run from January 28 to February 21, 2013 and include images from the site as well as exclusive composites taken from Irish literature. Yes, I know the above looks like David Mitchell. -- Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak….The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.</p>
  • <p>She was not like other people, never was from birth…There was a time when a girl like Cathy would have been called possessed by the devil…Her hair was gold and lovely; wide-set hazel eyes with upper lids that drooped made her look mysteriously sleepy. Her nose was delicate and thin, and her cheekbones high and wide, sweeping down to a small chin so that her face was heart-shaped. Her mouth was well shaped and well lipped but abnormally small— what used to be called a rosebud.</p>
  • <p>She was pale all over, white as a sheet; the skin of her nose was drawn at the nostrils, her eyes looked at you vaguely. After discovering three grey hairs on her temples, she talked much of her old age…Her eyelids seemed chiseled expressly for her long amorous looks in which the pupil disappeared, while a strong inspiration expanded her delicate nostrils and raised the fleshy corner of her lips, shaded in the light by a little black down.</p>
  • 01 /13 | "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", Robert Louis Stevenson

    “To this rule, Dr. Jekyll was no exception; and as he now sat on the opposite side of the fire—a large, well-made, ssmooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness…The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes.
    Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile…thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair…corded and hairy…God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic…Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll. Even as good shone upon the countenance of the one, evil was written broadly and plainly on the face of the other…The few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point, were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders.”

  • 02 /13 | Aomame, "1Q84", Haruki Murakami

    5’6…Not once ounce of excess fat…The left ear much bigger than the right, and malformed, but her hair always covers her ears…Lips formed a tight straight line…Small narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows…[Face is a] Pleasing oval shape…Extreme paucity of expression.

  • 03 /13 | Annie Wilkes, "Misery", Stephen King

    Her body was big but not generous…Her hair like some battered helmet…Her hair fungus-frowzy around her face…Grinning rictus…He thought Misery was a wonderful name for a pig. He remembered how she had imitated it, the way her upper lip had wrinkled toward her nose, how her cheeks had seemed to flatten…The impervious prow of her face…If he had been a farmer observing a sky which looked the way Annie's face looked right now, he would have at once gone to collect his family and herd them into the storm cellar. Her brow was too white. Her nostrils flared regularly, like the nostrils of an animal scenting fire…That stony, obdurate look covered her face like a mask…Only her eyes, those tarnished dimes, were fully alive under the shelf of her brow.

  • 04 /13 | Oyster/I-84 Messiah, "Lullaby", Chuck Palahniuk

    The man was young, blond, with his long blond hair whipping in the wind from cars blasting past them. He had a red goatee and scars cut sideways across both cheeks, just under his eyes. The scars were dark red, and the young man reached into the garbage bag with the dead dog and told the crew—it wasn’t dead…In the snapshots people take, in the videos, it’s always the flying blond hair, the red goatee, the scars. It’s always the same man…The details about Oyster are his hair, it looks shattered, the way a pine tree looks struck by lightning, splintered blond and standing up in every direction…His eyes are white. It’s not the white of white flags, surrender. It’s the white of hardboiled eggs, crippled chickens in battery cages, factory farm misery and suffering and death.

  • 05 /13 | Jane Eyre, "Jane Eyre", Charlotte Brontë

    “I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry mouth; I desired to be tall, stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked…“Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,” said he: “truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf? Is this my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled cheek and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant hazel eyes?” (I had green eyes, reader; but you must excuse the mistake: for him they were new-dyed, I suppose)… Having ascertained that I was myself in my usual Quaker trim, where there was nothing to retouch—all being too close and plain, braided locks included.”

  • 06 /13 | Sherlock Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    “His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.”

  • 07 /13 | Captain Ahab, "Moby Dick", Herman Melville

    He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them…His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze, and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini’s cast Perseus…Threading its way out from among his grey hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing, you saw a slender rod-like mark… branded… What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more…His eyes like powder-pans… It almost seemed that while he himself was marking out lines and courses on the wrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was also tracing lines and courses upon the deeply marked chart of his forehead…His firm lips met like the lips of a vice; the delta of his forehead’s veins swelled like overladen brooks…Supper he never touched; nor reaped his beard; which darkly grew all gnarled, as unearthed roots of trees blown over, which still grow idly on at naked base.

  • 08 /13 | Lisbeth Salander, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Stieg Larsson

    “A pale, skinny young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows. She had a wasp tattoo about an inch long on her neck…On those occasions when she had been wearing a tank top, a dragon tattoo can be seen on her left shoulder blade. Her natural hair colour was red, but she had dyed it ivory black…Crooked smile.”

  • 09 /13 | Count Dracula, "Dracula", Bram Stoker

    A tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache…His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead…His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking…For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin…The blue eyes transformed with fury.

  • 10 /13 | Jesus, "The Last Temptation of Christ", Nikos Kazantzakis

    Narrow, deeply wrinkled forehead… His patched and repatched tunic rolled off his shoulder and revealed his body—thin… The fluff about his chin and cheeks had become a curly coal-black beard. His nose was hooked, his lips thick…It was not a beautiful face, but it had a hidden, disquieting charm. Were his eyelashes to blame? Thick and exceedingly long… Or were his eyes responsible? They were large and black, full of light, full of darkness—all intimidation and sweetness. Flickering like those of a snake, they stared at you from between the long lashes, and your head reeled.

  • 11 /13 | Buck Mulligan, Ulysses, James Joyce

    Just in time for Bloomsday this weekend, I’m happy to announce an upcoming exhibition of “The Composites” at the Illuminations gallery of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The all-digitally screened exhibition will run from January 28 to February 21, 2013 and include images from the site as well as exclusive composites taken from Irish literature. Yes, I know the above looks like David Mitchell. -- Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak….The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.

  • 12 /13 | Cathy Ames, "East of Eden", John Steinbeck

    She was not like other people, never was from birth…There was a time when a girl like Cathy would have been called possessed by the devil…Her hair was gold and lovely; wide-set hazel eyes with upper lids that drooped made her look mysteriously sleepy. Her nose was delicate and thin, and her cheekbones high and wide, sweeping down to a small chin so that her face was heart-shaped. Her mouth was well shaped and well lipped but abnormally small— what used to be called a rosebud.

  • 13 /13 | Emma Bovary, "Madame Bovary", Gustave Flaubert

    She was pale all over, white as a sheet; the skin of her nose was drawn at the nostrils, her eyes looked at you vaguely. After discovering three grey hairs on her temples, she talked much of her old age…Her eyelids seemed chiseled expressly for her long amorous looks in which the pupil disappeared, while a strong inspiration expanded her delicate nostrils and raised the fleshy corner of her lips, shaded in the light by a little black down.

It's tough work being a police sketch artist. Well, unless you're the deputy from Making a Murderer, who allegedly based his sketch of an assailant on the person he wished to pin the crime on. Ordinarily, though, these artists have to extract details from people who were more preoccupied with other thoughts at the time than memorizing every crow's foot and pore-texture of their antagonizer, and use those details to create a recognizable face. Consider that the average person might have a tough time adequately describing a face even while looking right at it on a non-traumatic day. But what if it wasn't an average person, but one of the all-time great writers?

Jesus, "The Last Temptation of Christ", Nikos Kazantzakis

The Composites is a Tumblr that provides police sketch-style composite illustrations of some of the most famous characters in literary history, using only the descriptions of them provided in the book. Somehow, descriptions like this one from Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ ring truer than the average plaintiff's: "Narrow, deeply wrinkled forehead... the fluff about his chin and cheeks had become a curly coal-black beard... His nose was hooked, his lips thick…It was not a beautiful face"

Created by triple first-named artist Brian Joseph Davis, the Tumblr has profiled everyone from Jane Eyre to Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's Misery, and it's even spawned a book of its own. Finally, a more compelling use of police sketch artistry than those Dove Beauty ads from 2013.

Watch a video about The Composites below and have a look through more sketches in the slides above.

[via Visual News]

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