This is a brief overview of how forensic 3-D manual craniofacial reproductions are done. While this instructable will show the process of one case from beginning to end, it is not intended to be a proxy for teaching the knowledge and skills required to perform a credible facial reproduction; that takes years of training. Please vote for this project in the Up contest here
Step 1: About the Author
I am a doctor of physical and forensic anthropology. Prior to getting my PhD, I was a special effects artist in the film industry for over a decade. I have extensive training in anatomy (both medical and artistic), art and science. These facial reproductions draw on the science behind the morphology (shape) of the face as well as the knowledge of materials and skills developed from working in the effects industry.
Step 2: The Forensic Workup
Full forensic workup is performed:
Forensic anthropologists use scientific methods to determine the age, sex, stature, ancestry and any abnormalities that are detectable in the bones.
the decedent was estimated to be a white male, between the ages of 45-55
Height: around 5’6”
Died from strangulation
Edentulous (no teeth)
Skull was brought to me for facial reconstruction
For this case the skull had to be copied by using slow set alginate to make a mold and cast in a gypsum (plaster-like) material. The cast was not as ideal as working on the actual skull, but it was necessary for the skull to remain in the lab for testing. For this reproduction, the cast worked fine. Due to the decedent having no teeth, you can see the lower jaw takes on a much more severe angle than normal, and the tip of the chin tilts up toward the nose.
Step 4: Setting the Eyeballs
Eyeballs are then created and set into place in their anatomically accurate position (they are usually positioned at an angle to produce a lifelike effect). Most adult human eyes are about the same size (26mm). This is the eerie part when the skull begins to seem alive!