Assessment, Comparison and Alteration of Facial Images

butch cassidy comparison done by karen t. taylorBecause of the nature of their work, forensic artists are often considered “facial identification specialists”.  I realized this slowly over time as more and more often I was asked to give opinions regarding facial images even when no drawing was needed.  I do not relish this role, since it is often one of very little certainly, a lot of speculation, and a great risk of being totally wrong.  Methods of facial comparison may actually be more appropriate for elimination of a subject rather than for confirmation of identity.  I rarely, if ever, give a specific or firm opinion regarding arbitrary face-to-face comparisons, since it is outside the scope of my expertise.

It is also important to note that there has arisen a new forensic specialty in Personal Identification through Photographic Analysis.  Practitioners should have specific procedural training, beyond mere visual assessment, in order to do valid comparisons of questioned and known facial photographs.

Forensic artists are sometimes asked to modify or enhance facial images to make them more useful in criminal investigations. Today’s softwares allow for this to be done with great facility.  By whatever method an image is assessed, compared or modified, the most important factor is a solid foundation in anatomical knowledge of the face.  

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