Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Software » Multimedia » Graphics » Image Creation & Editing » Facial Composite

A facial composite is a sketch or computer-generated image used to create a visual representation of a person's face, based on memory, and in lieu of an actual photograph.

Although they may be used in other situations as well, facial composites are most commonly associated with police work. When a crime has been committed, and the identity of the suspect is unknown, eyewitnesses descriptions are sometimes used to create a graphical representation of the face of the suspect.

When facial composites were first introduced to police work, eyewitnesses would be asked to cooperate with a sketch artist to create a likeness of the suspect's face. While this method is still used, law enforcement agencies more commonly use computer programs to aid in this process today.

Typically, facial composite programs use database libraries of facial features that can be combined, resized, or otherwise manipulated to create a face. These libraries consist of prominent features, such as hair, eyes, nose, and lips, as well as more detailed features like eye lines and mouth lines. In effect, witnesses are asked to choose images from the database that comes closest to matching the facial features of the suspect. These features can then be resized or otherwise manipulated to render the most accurate result, from the witness's memory of the suspect. Identifying marks, such as tattoos or scars, can also be added. The resulting image may be used to create a wanted poster or an image that can assist investigators in checking leads. Facial composites are sometimes also used to warn populations against serial offenders.

Computerized systems are believed to produce better results, and can be utilized by people with less training than a sketch artist.

While facial composites can be useful to law enforcement, the resulting sketches are prone to error. The situations in which witnesses view a crime are typically stressful, and this can affect the accuracy of the details remembered by an eyewitness. Additionally, many eyewitnesses are prone to suggestion, and may become convinced of details that did not actually exist.

Nevertheless, facial composite images remain a valuable tool in police investigations and criminal prosecutions.

When there is more than one eyewitness to a crime, the process of morphing composites prepared by two or more witnesses has been found to create a more accurate representation.

While most facial composite systems use a feature-based methodology, more recently developed systems may utilize a holistic methodology, attempting to create a likeness of the individual through a different mechanism, in which a witness's response to groups of complete faces, rather than features.

Whatever the methodology or purpose, any computer software system designed to produce facial composites is appropriate for this category, as are sites whose topics focus on facial composite software.



Recommended Resources

Search for Facial Composite on Google or Bing