Surely, as we get older, we will all get the "lines on our face" we call wrinkles, but to a forensic artist who is working on an age progression or a facial reconstruction, the signs of ageing go much deeper than a crack or crease or fold in the skin.
To an artist, a line can be an outline or contour of a shape, part of a decorative design pattern, a means for adding texturing to a drawing, a shading technique used in multiplicity, or a sign of ageing in a portrait.
According to Gary Fagin's The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expressions,1 "... an expression leaves its mark on your face if you repeat it often enough." Whereas, Richard Neave2 states that no one grows old the same.
A forensic artist doing an age progression of a missing person's face has to take into consideration a great deal of information about that person, including lifestyle, personal habits, and family genetics. Family photographs can assist the artist, as well. Photos of siblings and parents, if available, can be reviewed. Especially helpful to the artist are photos of the missing subject and a family member viewed from similar angles. These are helpful in determining how many renderings can be completed to give the viewing public a chance to connect with a facial angle they may have normally seen. This can make the difference in someone simply recognizing the subject and actually speaking up or phoning in a tip.
To depict a sign of ageing, most artists put down lines on the portrait across the person's forehead or under the eyes. Fagin suggests, "In a line rendering of the face, creases are best expressed as a turning, rather than as a crack in a smooth surface,"1 to get a more accurate rendition in the appearance of ageing. Forensic artists often utilize this factor when attempting an age progression in a medium such as a pencil drawing.
The Signs of Ageing
In my experience, most people go through common stages of ageing. According to Taister, Holliday, and Borrman in their paper, Comments on Facial Aging in Law Enforcement Investigation,3 ageing can be broken down into groups of 10 years -20s, 30s, 40s, etc. The paper gives what are more visible signs in each of those time frames, but it also states that, "Ageing is a highly individual phenomenon."3
According to Taister et al., several internal factors should be considered prior to attempting an age progression drawing case, including:
- Diet over a period of time
- Allergic reactions
- Alcohol consumption
- Lack of rest
- Psychological trauma