The Art of Age Progression

April 28, 2010

Last week I was honoured to be asked to talk to the Medical Artists’ Association www.maa.org.uk at the Royal College of Surgeons. Here is a summary part 1. of the Art of Age Progression….

I found this definition of ageing on wikipedia……Ageing is the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over time. Aging in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of aging grow and expand over time, while others decline.

I studied illustration and photography at Maidstone Art college and after a few years, joined the Missing People Charity where I learnt all the different skills to become a forensic artist. This included training at the FBI Academy in Quantico in 2D and 3D facial reconstruction  – witness interviewing and E-Fit training at Durham with the British Police, Age Progression training at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington. And last but not least – the Medical Art Post graduate course.

Here are some of the images I produced – I tried to incorporate the forensic art into my Medical Art course as this was my line of work at the time. From 1997 to 2004 I worked for the Missing People Charity – I started as a volunteer then moved into case work, looking after the families of those who had gone missing. I then moved into the Identification department and started to learn forensic art, which included child age progression for long term missing children, facial reconstruction from skeletal remains, sanitizing photos of people found dead and updating photos of missing adults, i.e. changing hairstyles etc I also helped police to match missing persons reports with those found unidentified, dead or alive.

Age progressions are normally done for three reasons……

Firstly and most importantly, they are used when someone has been missing for two or more years and there has been sufficient time for appearances to change. The age progression image normally renews publicity and media interest in a case, therefore the case stays pro-active, supporting families and hopefully finding the person safe.

Secondly, age progressions are produced by or for police to try to capture criminals.

Thirdly, age progressions are often used in the media to illustrate to people the damaging effects of for example, smoking, drinking and sunbathing as a kind of a shock tactic.

Missing Person April Fabb

This is the case of missing person April Fabb – she was 13 when she disappeared on her bicycle in Norfolk, never to be seen again. She would now be in her mid 50’s.

Here I started off with a reference photograph in colour of a lady in her 50’s. I then used that as my main reference photo. I had pictures of her parents in their 50’s and used those as reference, Each age progression is different, and sometimes I’ll merge the missing photo with that of a family member. It just depends on what I have to work with.

Effectively, you are piecing together a puzzle using reference pictures of family members – here lie the clues as to how someone is going to look when they are older. Ultimately, I’m always hopeful that I’ll maintain the proportions and ‘unique look’ of that person.

Part 2 continues later…..

www.changemyface.com

www.missingpeople.org.uk

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