Ask a Forensic Artist


How can you check the thickness of the clay between markers with any accuracy, without mangling the sculpture in the process? Easy! Here are two options; one costs about 2 cents (literally) and the other, 12 bucks.


Here’s the 2 cent option. I got the idea when one of my earrings fell off while I was sculpting, and I couldn’t find the back to it. I looked at the bin full of erasers for tissue depth markers, looked at my X-Acto knife, and an idea was born!

All you do is stick this into the clay where you want to measure, and the slice of the eraser acts like a little depth gauge. Then just hold it against a ruler to see how deep the clay is where you poked it.


Oh, by the way, that’s just a plastic ruler that I cut down to make narrower. Sometimes in the earlier stages of sculpting I’ll stick that in the clay to see how deep it is, but of course that does more damage than the thickness of a paper clip.

If you want to get very specific measurements, then use digital calipers. Every forensic artist should have these on hand anyway; they cost anywhere from $12 to $200 dollars depending on how fancy you want to be. These are the $12 kind…no surprise there! I got mine at Harbor Freight Tools, but you can get them at Home Depot or Lowes too. Push the depth gauge part of the calipers all the way in where you want to measure, until the edge is flush with the clay.



9.97mm around the gonion….right on target!

Remember, if you have any forensic art tips or tricks you want to share, send them in and I’ll post them here with you as a guest blogger.


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