Brian J. Davis, a Brooklyn-based digital artist and filmmaker, admits that he is "obsessed" with artwork that isn’t traditionally considered art.
"Police sketches are one of those," he told BuzzFeed News.
They aren't "considered true portraiture work" in the art world, he said. But "what if you can take a sketch program and find an alternative use for it?"
Davis uses FACES ID, a computer software used by law enforcement agencies for quick witness sketches, to create portraits of literary characters.
"[The software] is not meant to be art," he said. "It's a tool for people who don't know how to make art."
Davis publishes the complete portraits, which he calls "composites," on tumblr. Each portrait takes about two hours to complete, he said.
The software allows the user to choose from thousands of facial features to compose a suspect sketch.
But the program still has its limitations. Davis said a birthmark or tattoo, for example, may need to be photoshopped onto the image for a more accurate picture.
Davis draws from the book's own description of the character to develop the sketch.
"In the world of crime and law enforcement the witness identification is the most unreliable part," he said. "If you transfer that onto the world of literature, we all have our own biases and impressions and we bring that to the story."
He explains the process of creating a police sketch of literary characters "sort of makes real that process that any reader goes through while reading."
Davis has received a number of requests to compose portraits of characters in the Harry Potter series. But he declines telling BuzzFeed News that "The characters have to feel right to be on the site. A little bit of edge or be an outright villain."
Davis published some of his work in a 2012 book called The Composites: Police Sketches of Literary Characters. He took a hiatus from the tumblr project, but plans to publish a portrait bi-weekly.
He also hosts a monthly podcast called "Composite Cast" which explores the intersection between crime and art.