Here's What Rochester Looks Like (as a Police Composite Sketch)
In terms of image-construction itself, Davis used the forensic software program Faces ID, which gives users (creepily, incredibly) about 10,000 individual facial features to choose among. He then used the authors' descriptions of their characters as guidelines in his selections, selecting the most true-to-text facial features, Identikit-style. For the inevitable gaps in the characters' descriptions (noses and ears, Davis discovered, were often ignored by authors), he did some educated guesswork, considering factors like the era the author was writing in and other elements of the story that might inform its characters' appearance.Also, Madame Bovary, Humbert Humbert... and more at The Composites, including Daisy Buchanan and Sam Spade. (The Atlantic, feb 10... link thanks to Bob Morales)
"So," Davis says, "it's a combination of literary criticism -- which I know well -- and forensics -- of which I'm an utter amateur."