Inside the Story: Is this the most accurate depiction of LDS prophet Joseph Smith?

Inside the Story: Is this the most accurate depiction of LDS prophet Joseph Smith? (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) For more than 150 years, artists have tried to portray what the founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, really looked like.

One Latter-day Saint artist believes he may have found the answer.

Digital artist Chad Winks used Smith's death mask to capture what he believes is an accurate image of the LDS prophet.

Using Smith's death mask to paint his portrait is not unusual. But Winks used the mask as a foundation and digitally pealed away the molding and turned it into flesh.

"As far as I know, this is a first that's been done like that," Winks said.

With that foundation, Winks filled in the details like the lips, hair and eyes.

"It's amazing how much your bone structure actually dictates the way you look," he said.

Winks also added a scar that Smith may have received from being tarred and feathered.

The process took months, with Winks constantly going back to the death mask for accuracy.

"I would adjust the transparency and go back and forth and go back and forth. I did this for a long time."

The finished piece is called "The Prophet Revealed."

Some of Winks' work is featured at Deseret Book, where he does have a lot of competition.

But he believes his digital artwork, which includes eight other pieces with Christian and LDS themes, is unique enough to stand out.

"I want people to feel it," Winks said. "I want people to feel a connection that maybe they haven't felt yet in other art pieces."

Winks admits that no one really knows exactly what Smith looked like. but maybe his portrait could be the closest thing to Smith's image 175 years ago.

"I hope that I see him someday and do a little comparison and I get the thumbs up."

The idea to paint Smith came when someone posted a photo of Smith on Facebook, and Winks didn't think it looked accurate.

Winks still has a day job, but says if he could digitally paint full time, it would be his dream.

For more about Chad Winks' art, visit his website.