Many forensic artists do the job as a collateral duty to their “regular” job in law enforcement, such as police officer, crime scene technician etc. Different skills in the forensic arts are as follows:
● Composite Sketching: the main objective is to help investigators generate leads based on physical descriptions. This is usually drawn by hand by an artist trained in interviewing victims and witnesses using the information provided to draw what is described. Composite art produces a single, graphic image that is designed to be a likeness or similarity of the individual.
● Image Modification: used to change and enhance a photograph in order to help an investigator and/or trial attorney. Examples of this include age progression/regression and the clarifying of images, such as from CCTV footage, to identify an individual.
● Image Identification: the recording of a person’s distinguishing features for future reference. Investigators can use this tool to identify suspects who attempt to change their appearance to evade capture, as well as in the study of cold cases in which individuals may have changed their appearance since the event.
● Crime Scene Sketching: the drawing of a crime scene; in the sketch, an investigator includes measurements and dimensions to aid in displaying the layout of the scene. This helps support the information shown in photographs of the scene.
● Demonstrative Evidence: any visible, physical evidence used in legal proceedings. These are used to demonstrate aspects of the case, reconstruct an event and illustrate what happened. There are two categories of demonstrative evidence; court displays and investigative aids.
● Postmortem Drawing: when an artist either looks at a deceased person’s photograph or their remains to help identify who the person is and what they looked like prior to their death. This helps most in cases where the body is too damaged by an accident or decomposition.
● Age Progression/Regression: useful to determine what a person looks like before or after a period of time. This is most commonly used in missing persons cases or during cold cases when investigators need an idea of what an individual looked like years prior to or following an investigation.
● Forensic Sculpture: this is used to create three-dimensional models, usually using the skull of the victims. Other features are added such as fake eyes and wigs to add realism. This process can also inform investigators of certain characteristics of the victim — such as age, race or gender — through detailed knowledge of the intricacies of skeletal structure and other corresponding features such as dental records.
● Collaboration: forensic artists, anthropologists and other professionals are used to help determine the age, sex and race of an identified skull.