We all use the physical descriptions of literary characters to form an image of how that character might look, but what if you handed that description to a trained professional, one who's an expert in translating descriptions into portraits? In his portrait series The Composites, Brian Joseph Davis uses law enforcement composite software to see determine how these characters literally look.
Davis takes a descriptive passage for each character and then translates it into a physical face. For example, for Snow Crash's Hiro Protagonist, he based his design on this bit of text:
Hiro has cappuccino skin and spiky, truncated dreadlocks. His hair does not cover as much of his head as it used to, but he is a young man, by no means bald or balding, and the slight retreat of his hairline only makes more of his high cheekbones…. Beneath this image, it is possible to see Hiro's eyes, which look Asian. They are from his mother, who is Korean by way of Nippon. The rest of him looks more like his father, who was African by way of Texas by way of the Army.
You can check out The Composites Tumblr to see how the descriptions match up with the faces below.
Vaughn, Crash, JG Ballard
SGary, Zone One, Colson Whitehead
SAomame, 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
SThe Finn, "Burning Chrome" and Neuromancer, William Gibson
SMarla Singer, Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
SHiro Protagonist, Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
SSamuel Klayman aka Sam Clay, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon