The art of facial reconstruction


Facial reconstruction started in the late 19th century in Germany and Switzerland. Currently there are two groups of facial reconstruction; two and three-dimensional.

Two-dimensional facial reconstruction creates drawings and paintings based on superimposing an image onto a picture of the skull. With this technique a number of frontal and profile views can be produced of the victim. Some manual experts first draw the musculature of the face onto the picture of the skull, where others immediately draw the finished face. Next to the great artistic skill required to create a manual two-dimensional drawing, there is now software on the market which facilitates this process. With this software the expert can select facial features from a database which match the skeletal structure.

Three-dimensional facial reconstruction creates manual facial sculptures on top of the skull. This is either done through an anatomical approach (modelling musculature first and after that applying a layer of skin) or a morphometric approach (using tissue depth data to create a contour map into which the facial features are modelled). Also in this area of facial reconstruction there are now a number of computer applications which aim to facilitate the process; however these programs have not yet been sufficiently tested to be considered fully usable and reliable in a forensic setting.

Example of Online Facial Reconstruction Class

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