1st Edition

Reading the Skull Advanced 2D Reconstruction

By Natalie Murry Copyright 2024
    226 Pages 194 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    226 Pages 194 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    While there are a handful of introductory texts and resources on 2D drawing for facial identification and reconstruction, most often they don’t go beyond this cursory presentation of the subject. There is need for an advanced text available for artists who wish to learn more about reading and understanding the skull to inform more accurate and detailed 2D craniofacial reconstruction work.

    Reading the Skull: Advanced 2D Reconstruction fills this need by providing instruction on how to identify basic features, as well as indicators and anomalies in bone structures, to help in illustrating more specific and unique details in facial structure and features. Since artists are most frequently visual learners, the book presents comparative photos of skulls with life photos to help better identify and decipher distinguishing facial characteristics. Because many forensic artists perform few reconstructions each year— and have very little exposure to skulls - the author has written this text to show examples of distinct elements in the skull for artists to see, compare, and learn. In doing so, it provides those who do not regularly work with skulls more exposure to them and allows readers the ability to apply such information and better extrapolate features for the purpose of more accurately rendering an individual’s unique facial features. When examining the skull closely, each feature can be more detailed based on what the bone is indicating, and the work can be more accurate to that specific skull. Characteristics such as the ears, facial harmony and symmetry, shape of eye and brow, nose and mouth, the aging process, sex and ancestral background— among others— are all singular to that skull and adds to the gestalt of that face to make it more identifiable as an individual.

    Reading the Skull is a ground- breaking collection of the author’s personal study and research, other published works from the literature on facial features, as well as numerous examples from donors to forensic anthropology centers in the US. Work presented draws upon new information from anthropologists and others in related fields and disciplines who continue to study facial features based on the skull. As such, it provides a fresh perspective, summarizing several studies and work together in a single book.

      1. Introduction  2. Photographing the skull  3. The face and ears  4. Casework  5. The eye and brow  6. The nose  7. The mouth  8. Facial reconstruction in the UK  9. Traumatic injury and anomalies  10. Facial comparison


      Natalie Murry is a freelance forensic artist currently based in Austin, Texas. She began her forensic art career while working as a police officer in Kent Washington. She does reconstructions and postmortem drawings for the King County Medical Examiner’s Office in Seattle Washington, and the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office in Everett Washington. She has taught forensic artists to draw digitally at workshops at police departments from Washington to New Jersey as well as at Scottsdale Artists School and at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University. Natalie is on the forensic art subcommittee for the International Association for Identification, and is an IAI certified forensic artist. She has had two articles published in the Journal of Forensic Identification: in September/ October 2015 entitled “Rotating the Anterior View of a Skull into the Frankfort Horizontal Plane for Postmortem Drawings” and in April/ June 2021 entitled “Skull to Photo Comparison for Identification Purposes.” She has been a beta tester for Corel Painter since the 2016 build. Her work can be seen on her website, www.natal iemu rry.com, on Instagram as @NatalieMurryForensicArt, and on Facebook as NatalieMurryForensicArt.

      “After working hundreds of these cases, I thought that I knew everything that there is to know about reading a face from the skull, but then I read Natalie’s book. Such a wealth of information, and you can tell that it has been composed by someone who has really put their heart into knowing every single solitary piece. This book showed me the scientific reasons for the intuitive understandings of the human face which drive my work for the dead … a perfect reference guide for the forensic artists who want to be taken seriously in a group of seasoned anthropologists. When I started reading … I honestly learned something from every single chapter. Artists who don’t do the work every day should have this book close at hand for each case they get. Even for those artists who have been doing the work the same way for years, Natalie introduces additional methods beyond just the American standard that we have all learned with all principles backed by photo comparisons and study references. If you feel like saying, ‘there has to be another way’ then Natalie likely has it introduced in this book.”—Kelly Lawson, Forensic Artist, Georgia Bureau of Investigation

      “As a contributing author, I hadn’t had the opportunity to read the full book until publication. Natalie has presented her experience of real-world casework in a way that brings the theory of facial reconstruction to life and shows how to apply it. Reading the Skull is an invaluable reference point.” —Tim Widden, National Crime Agency listed Forensic Artist based in London, England, UK (https://timwidden.co.uk/

      “Natalie Murry's Reading the Skull: Advanced 2D Reconstruction is one the most comprehensive, step-by-step, and easy-to-follow instruction guides as to how to complete an accurate facial approximation. I have been a practitioner of Forensic Art for over twenty years, specializing in facial approximations. I follow the guidelines, suggestions, and teaching of my mentors. I use the same materials as most practitioners and have adapted, interpreted, and modified those materials into my own workflow. Having said that, this book taught me that, even after over twenty years, I still had more to learn about how to read a skull. It is a must-have for up-and-coming artists—and me. Thank you, Natalie!”—Joe Mullins, Senior Forensic Imaging Specialist, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children