AGE PROGRESSIONS of adults are done in cases of endangered missing adults as well as fugitives, all in the hopes of generating renewed public interest and fresh leads for investigators.
Forensic artists don’t have any special gifts or psychic ability to predict what someone will look like in the future. What we do have is in-depth knowledge of facial anatomy, we’ve studied aging patterns of the face, and we have the artistic ability to illustrate those changes. Barring any new specific information about a person’s appearance, it really comes down to educated guesswork.
To create an age-progressed image, whether by retouching the photo or doing a drawing, an artist follows the same basic protocol. First, we try to get as much information on the person as possible, such as their lifestyle, genetics, occupation, etc. The more information, the better. This is because an outdoorsy and athletic person wouldversus someone that had an office job or was prone to being overweight.
Whether hand drawn or produced with the use of Photoshop, age progressions are just one of several possible “looks’ that a person may have when they age. Forensic artists are not psychic, and there is no guarantee that what is produced will look 100%, or even 75% of what the person may look like when apprehended.
But, with a motivated law enforcement team putting the image out there to the public, this can often generate enough interest that people will take a second look, and call in a lead.
CHILD AGE PROGRESSIONS of children are a different Needless to say, the aging process for adults is vastly different than that of children, so the method for producing an age-progressed image of a child is different as well. Instead of lifestyle changes, artists must depict the proportional changes of a child’s growth. This requires specialized knowledge, and ideally, specific input from the missing child’s parents and siblings. Many cases of child abductions are a result of custody disputes so this input isn’t always available, but continually updated images of the missing child are a way to help keep the search alive, and in the public’s memory.