Facial Forensic Services Program

The FBI has a team of highly-trained forensic artists ready to provide forensic facial imaging services to federal, state, local, and international partners. 

With extensive training in craniofacial anatomy and art, our forensic artists can produce:

  • composite sketches
  • digital image modification
  • postmortem imaging
  • facial approximation

These tools allow for immediate public release for identification and information purposes.

These services are only available to law enforcement partners.

With extensive training in craniofacial anatomy and art, FBI Laboratory forensic artists can produce composite sketches, digital image modification, postmortem imaging, and facial approximations.

What We Do 

Forensic facial imaging products serve as investigative leads in active and cold case investigations.

Our main services include: 

  • Composite sketching: Forensic artists provide composite sketching services both in-person and virtually. Composite artists have extensive training in cognitive interviewing and drawing.
  • Digital image modification: Forensic experts use computer software programs to modify photographic images for investigative purposes.  For facial age progressions of fugitives and missing persons, forensic artists take into consideration familial aging patterns and anatomical changes that occur during the aging process. Other digital imaging services may include the image alteration of fugitives or missing persons by changing hair and clothing for seeking information posters. 
  • Postmortem imaging: Forensic artists can produce a likeness of a person from the images of the deceased individual digitally or by hand.  Often, a postmortem image is the last attempt in successfully identifying a person in a cold case investigation. 
  • Facial approximation: Forensic artists work closely with FBI anthropologists when producing 2D and 3D facial approximations from skeletal remains. Tissue depth markers, which are added to a 3D print of the original skull, determine the soft tissue facial features. Facial approximations can also be done with clay or 3D software or as a 2D rendering. 

Requesting Our Services

For more information about the facial forensics services program, you can contact visual_arts@fbi.gov or (703) 632-8194.

Route all federal (non-FBI), state, local, and international requests through the local FBI field office. Email visual_arts@fbi.gov for additional instructions. 

What We Don't Do:

  • We do not provide facial identification services.
  • We cannot currently provide forensic image training services to non-FBI personnel.