Last week I was honoured to be asked to talk to the Medical Artists’ Association www.maa.org.uk at the Royal College of Surgeons. Here is a summary part 1. of the Art of Age Progression….

I found this definition of ageing on wikipedia……Ageing is the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over time. Aging in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of aging grow and expand over time, while others decline.

I studied illustration and photography at Maidstone Art college and after a few years, joined the Missing People Charity where I learnt all the different skills to become a forensic artist. This included training at the FBI Academy in Quantico in 2D and 3D facial reconstruction  – witness interviewing and E-Fit training at Durham with the British Police, Age Progression training at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington. And last but not least – the Medical Art Post graduate course.

Here are some of the images I produced – I tried to incorporate the forensic art into my Medical Art course as this was my line of work at the time. From 1997 to 2004 I worked for the Missing People Charity – I started as a volunteer then moved into case work, looking after the families of those who had gone missing. I then moved into the Identification department and started to learn forensic art, which included child age progression for long term missing children, facial reconstruction from skeletal remains, sanitizing photos of people found dead and updating photos of missing adults, i.e. changing hairstyles etc I also helped police to match missing persons reports with those found unidentified, dead or alive.

Age progressions are normally done for three reasons……

Firstly and most importantly, they are used when someone has been missing for two or more years and there has been sufficient time for appearances to change. The age progression image normally renews publicity and media interest in a case, therefore the case stays pro-active, supporting families and hopefully finding the person safe.

Secondly, age progressions are produced by or for police to try to capture criminals.

Thirdly, age progressions are often used in the media to illustrate to people the damaging effects of for example, smoking, drinking and sunbathing as a kind of a shock tactic.

Missing Person April Fabb

This is the case of missing person April Fabb – she was 13 when she disappeared on her bicycle in Norfolk, never to be seen again. She would now be in her mid 50’s.

Here I started off with a reference photograph in colour of a lady in her 50’s. I then used that as my main reference photo. I had pictures of her parents in their 50’s and used those as reference, Each age progression is different, and sometimes I’ll merge the missing photo with that of a family member. It just depends on what I have to work with.

Effectively, you are piecing together a puzzle using reference pictures of family members – here lie the clues as to how someone is going to look when they are older. Ultimately, I’m always hopeful that I’ll maintain the proportions and ‘unique look’ of that person.

Part 2 continues later…..

www.changemyface.com

www.missingpeople.org.uk

maddie-before maddie-after

By Michael Seamark and Daily Mail Reporter

The hair is longer and the chubby toddler cheeks are gone. But that distinctive mark in her eye is still there – making this image unmistakeably of Madeleine McCann as she might look today, two years after she vanished.

Her parents Kate and Gerry revealed the picture to the world today in an emotional interview with U.S. chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

Two years on: Left, Madeleine McCann shortly before she disappeared. Right, a new computer-generated image issued by her parents Kate and Gerry shows what she may look like today, aged six

They believe that it is the most realistic image of how their daughter looks today.

The picture will be used on posters headed, ‘Don’t Give Up on Me’ in a fresh drive to find the missing toddler.

It was drawn up using photographs of Madeleine, computer assisted technology, and pictures of her parents around the same age. Gerry McCann’s features in particular can be seen in the image.

It was created by U.S. experts from Virginia’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children  –  which may account for the ‘Americanised’ hair band and frilly dress – but Madeleine’s parents are ‘happy’ with the result.

Enlarge madeleine

Two years on: Kate and Gerry McCann released this computer-generated image of what Madeleine may look like today

Age progression pictures are intended to give an idea of how a person may look several years after they disappeared.

It  is not an exact science, explained Auriole Prince, a British forensic and age progression artist who has helped police in missing person inquiries and trained at the FBI academy, but ‘an educated guess.’

She said: ‘It is a cross between art and science. You are trying to create an impression of what you think that person will look like today.

‘It’s a little like piecing together a puzzle. You start with a photograph of the missing person, use reference photographs of their parents and siblings and try to create an accurate, new image.’

Every face is obviously different, said Ms Prince, ‘but everyone has a unique likeness, that triangle of features, the eyes, the nose and the mouth. How the features sit in relation to one another.

‘People get older but they don’t look completely different.’

Emotional: Kate McCann breaks down as she talks about her missing daughter Madeleine on the Oprah Winfrey show

In the case of a child of Madeleine’s age, the changes are sometimes marked. ‘ You start to lose that baby look,’ said Ms Prince. ‘ Everything will be moved on a stage –  the bone structure the nose, the jaw line.

‘The best we can hope is to create familiarity.

‘It is not going to be 100 per cent accurate but that unique likeness remains and hopefully enables people to recognise her still, make a connection.’

Madeleine disappeared on May 3, 2007 while on holiday with her parents and twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz.

Oprah aired a trailer for her interview with the McCanns on her U.S. show this afternoon, revealing the picture.

The show will be aired on Monday, May 4 – a day after the McCanns quietly mark the tragic two-year anniversary.

Kate McCann broke down during the Oprah interview as she appealed for information about her missing daughter.

‘My heart broke for them,’ the chat show host wrote in a posting on Twitter earlier this week.

Meanwhile an expert has today claimed the youngster was probably abducted after walking out of her holiday apartment in search of her parents.

Enlarge Supporting each other: Kate and Gerry unveiled a computer generated image of how Madeleine might look if still alive, set for release later today

Supporting each other: Kate and Gerry unveiled a computer generated image of how Madeleine might look if still alive. It was released today

Criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas said it was unlikely an abductor entered apartment 5a at the Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz, Portugal.

The former detective said Madeleine was probably snatched by an opportunistic paedophile as she looked for her parents as they ate with friends at a nearby tapas bar.

His comments come as Kate and Gerry McCann launch a fresh appeal ahead of the second anniversary since the three-year-old’s disappearance, two years ago this Sunday.

The couple employed a forensic imaging artist from the United States’ National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to create a photographic impression of how Madeleine would probably look today, aged five, nearly six.

The ‘age progression image’ will be unveiled on Oprah Winfrey’s U.S. chat show, mid-afternoon British time today.

The age progression will be used on posters for a fresh drive to find their daughter.

It is being shown on the Oprah Fridays Live show ahead of the U.S. broadcast of the star’s interview with the McCanns on Monday, extracts from which were released today.

Without evidence to the contrary, the McCanns, from Rothley in Leicestershire, still believe there is ‘a very real likelihood’ Madeleine is alive and well.

In the one-hour interview, which will be screened in the UK at 8pm on Diva TV on Tuesday, Winfrey asked them: ‘Do you let yourself go to the worst?’

Mrs McCann replied: ‘I think it’s natural. I know people mean well when they say don’t let yourself go there, but as a mum, inevitably there are times when I do. And they’re the times that I kind of dip down.’

The interviewer asked them about their marriage.

McCann

Meanwhile an criminologist has claimed today that the youngster was probably abducted after walking out of her holiday apartment in search of her parents

Mr McCann said: ‘Child abduction, I think, could destroy any family. There’s no doubt about it.

‘It’s one of the most devastating things. But we’ve been supported tremendously well and I think that’s helped us stay strong and stay together.

‘Obviously, we’re really united in our goal and our love of Madeleine and Sean and Amelie.’

Mrs McCann said she keeps Madeleine’s room ready for her return and said she goes in there about twice a day.

‘Do you talk to her?’ asked Oprah.

Mrs McCann replied: ‘Just [to] say hello, really. Just [to] tell her we’re still going to do everything we can to find her.’

Criminologist Mr Williams-Thomas said publicly-available evidence leads him to believe the three-year-old arranged her toys on her bed and left through the unlocked patio door of the holiday apartment.

He said the case bears striking similarities to the murder of Sarah Payne who was snatched from a West Sussex field nine years ago.

He said: ‘Is it unreasonable to presume that Madeleine woke up and then went in search of her parents at a restaurant within a holiday complex that she had grown familiar with over the course of her holiday?

‘Neatly tucking up her toys – as her parents had done to her – she slipped out of the apartment through an insecure patio door.

‘This seems all the more credible given what we know happened to eight-year-old Sarah Payne who was abducted in July 2000, even though she was only out of sight of her family for a matter of seconds.’

Mr Williams-Thomas made his comments after reviewing more than 10,000 documents amassed by Portuguese police during their investigation.

He said an abductor would not have arranged the toys on the bed as he would have wanted to escape as quickly as possible.

The expert said a paedophile may have also chosen to take one of the younger and more defenceless twins, Sean and Amelie, who were sleeping nearby.

Gerry McCann has revealed Madeleine asked her parents during the holiday why they had not come when the twins had been crying.

Mr Williams-Thomas said: ‘Based on the evidence provided from within the case files it is more likely that she was abducted after she had left the apartment. A number of factors suggest that this is the likely scenario.’

Last year, on the first anniversary, Gerry and Kate launched an appeal, urging anyone who spoke to police about the missing child to contact their own hotline.

The couple were buoyed by the news earlier this week that EU funding had been set aside for the Europe-wide alert system for missing children that they had campaigned for.

They hope for another boost in the coming days, in the form of a substantial response to their release of the image.

They then plan to spend Sunday in private. It is thought the Catholics will not visit their local chapel – although prayers will doubtless be said there for the family and their missing child.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said: ‘It’s going to be a busy weekend. The detectives and hotline are prepared for the response to the age progression image.

‘For Sunday, Kate and Gerry are determined to keep it as private and non-public an event as possible. They may even try to spend it with relatives.’

In a message on their website, FindMadeleine.com, the McCanns said: ‘As the second anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction approaches, there is much still to be done.

‘We continue to remain focussed on our aim – to find Madeleine and bring her back home safely. As Madeleine’s parents we cannot and will not ever stop doing all we can to find her.

‘The search for Madeleine continues with the same strength and determination, and thankfully, there are many people who are continuing to help in a variety of ways.’

Courtesy of the Daily Mail www.dailymail.co.uk

www.changemyface.com