How to make photofits of your characters

When I was planning out my second novel, Let Us Be True, I knew I didn’t want to give too many physical details about the main characters, Ralf and Elsa, but I still wanted to know exactly what they looked like myself, so that I could imagine how they might appear to each other and how they would fit together as a couple.

I decided to make photofits of each of them, and spent a long time figuring out a way of doing it without any complicated software (in the end, I used PowerPoint). I started out with a computer-generated generic Caucasian face I found online, made it 70% transparent, then found images of people I thought they might each look like – a little of the young Alain Delon in Ralf, a little of the young Natalie Portman in Elsa. I combined about eight photos for each face, re-sizing them, placing them carefully on top of the previous photo and tweaking their transparency so that they built up in layers. Faces began to emerge. I found myself staring at Ralf and Elsa – completely imagined, imaginary people who nonetheless looked strangely real.

Now, when people ask me who would play Ralf and Elsa in the film, I want to show them the photofits and tell them it’s simple – all they have to do is find these imaginary people from my head. But I realise that makes me sound delusional, so I’ve been trying to think of alternatives.

The two actors that spring to mind first are Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, a real-life couple who played opposite one another in the brilliant adaptation of The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman. But then I remember how great Dominic West is, and he looks kind of like Ralf. But he’s playing Alicia Vikander’s dad in the new Tomb Raider, so that’s not going to work. Although Tuppence Middleton was great in War and Peace

I think it’s fair to say I’m never going to make it as a casting director, but at least now I have a fun way of visualising my characters.

 

First published on Jera’s Jamboree.

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