How to Become a Forensic Artist

Not many people are aware on how to become a forensic artist. Forensic art is an art form utilized in law enforcement and legal proceedings. The most commonly seen form is the production of composite sketches of crime suspects. However, there are many other forms such as crime scene sketching, courtroom drawings, image modification, image identification, and facial approximations, among others.

What is a Forensic Artist?

A forensic artist is tasked to produce a graphic representation of a possible suspect using the information provided by victims and witnesses. The traditional way is through manual sketching although many artists now use the computer to aid them in producing the final picture. Computer use is deemed essential to the current practice of forensic art since it is able to provide results that cannot be approximated by manual drawings alone such as the aging of a person.

Featured Undergrad Programs
1. Ashford University – BA – Social and Criminal Justice
2. Liberty University – BS – Criminal Justice – Forensics
3. Post University – BS – Criminal Justice

Featured Master’s Programs
1. Grand Canyon University – MS – Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement
2. St. Leo University – MS – Criminal Justice – Forensics
3. Virginia College – MS – Criminal Justice

An artist specializing in sculpture can reconstruct faces based on skeletal remains. This helps in identifying remains which can no longer be identified in their existing state. Reconstruction of a crime scene can also be done by a sketch artist so as to put all provided details from witnesses and victims in the right perspective.

Drawing and computer skills are not the only skills required from forensic artists. They also need to have people skills to be able to extract information from people who are typically under great stress after being victimized or witnessing a crime. Answers to questions as to physical descriptions may vary depending on how the questions were given. A skill in photography is also an advantage as well as the willingness to look at physical remains of dead people for reconstructive forensics.

Educations and Training

A degree is not required to work as a forensic artist but since forensic art deals with science which requires accuracy and precision, well-developed drawing skills must be present as well as the knowledge of using computer software related to the field. An associate’s degree in drawing provides the basic instruction for visual media as well as the fundamental drawing skills vital to all aspiring and practicing forensic artists.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts provides more advanced instruction for drawing, painting, sculpting, and animation. An anatomy course should also be seriously considered. To add to an artist’s qualification, he/she can apply for professional certification in forensics artistry. Requirements for certification include at least 2 years of professional experience and a portfolio consisting of at least 15 portraits from actual investigations. Qualified applicants will be allowed to take the written exams. Credentials obtained from this undertaking can be renewed every five years provided that the renewal applicant can show proof of at least 50 hours of continuing education from the time of granting of their last certification.

Becoming a Forensic Artist

Applicants to the job must have extensively prepared themselves in the skills aspect before attempting to land a job in forensic art. The success of an application will largely depend on the level of related expertise that can be shown to prospective employers. Those who seriously desire to succeed in the field will leave no stone unturned in continuously developing their skills. Forensic art is ideal for people who are naturally inclined to the arts but have genuine interest in science and law as well. Inclination and interest work well together especially if you know how to become a forensic artist.