How to Become a Police Artist

Police Artist Job Description

Police artists sketch likenesses of subjects according to communicated observations and descriptions for the purpose of depicting court room scenes, identifying suspects or for entertainment purposes.


They use mediums which include, charcoal, pencil and pastels.



Typical Job Duties

• Draw sketch of posed subject or based on a verbal description

• Use mediums such as pencil, pastels and charcoal

• Search police photograph records using coding system to determine if there is an existing photograph of the subject

• Measure distances and develops sketches of a crime scene based on a combination of those measurements and photographs

• Interview crime victims and witnesses to obtain a description of a suspect’s build, sex, nationality and facial features

• Prepare series of simple preliminary line sketches based on description of the subject and present to the informant for selection as a base for the final sketch

• Alter copy of composite image until witness or victim is satisfied that the composite accurately represents the suspect





Path for Becoming a Police Artist

The first thing you will need to do if you want to become a police sketch artist is to put together a professional portfolio. Select your best composite drawings and photos of any facial sculptures to be placed in the portfolio. In order to hone your skills, practice as much facial drawing as you can. Sketch faces from photos; ask family and friends to provide a description of a photo and draw it.


Contact law enforcement agencies including provincial police, sheriff’s department, city police and federal agencies, such as the RCMP, or the FBI to determine if they need a police sketch artist. Some agencies use freelance police artists and may want more then one on their contact list.


A great way to get your foot in the door with law enforcement agencies is to volunteer while you are searching for employment. Most law enforcement agencies use community volunteers in various capacities. This will help you make valuable contacts and allow you to show your portfolio to the right people. It may give you an advantage over an outside applicant.



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