Discover your career path

Police Sketch Artist

Draw portraits of crime suspects to help investigations.

What does a Police Sketch Artist do?

When looking for a suspect, police need all the help they can get. Even after witnesses have been interviewed, things can still get confusing. “Five foot 10 with brown, curly hair” can mean one thing to one Police Officer, and bring up a completely different image for another. The job of a Police Sketch Artist is to help end confusion, and provide Investigators with a clear image of the person they’re searching for.

As a Police Sketch Artist, you start by talking with the person who saw the criminal: the witness. Often, this is also the victim, so you need to be gentle when talking with them. Victims are often traumatized or in shock, so you need to be sure not to push when asking for information.

The first thing you need to know about the person is general information. That’s stuff like age, sex, weight, hair and eye color, and skin tone. You then move into more specific aspects of their appearance, like scars or recognizable features that stood out.

You draw out different types of facial features, like eyes that slant and eyes that don’t. The witness looks these different options over, and lets you know when you get the suspect’s features right.

The image you create can then be scanned into a computer database and sent to police departments around the country, or it might show up on a news program so the public can help in the search. Some Police Sketch Artists help identify missing people by using found bones to recreate faces.