Putting a face to Richard

Before the formal identification of the remains, the Richard III Society commissioned a reconstruction of Richard’s face from Professor Caroline Wilkinson. This type of reconstruction uses the skull as a guide to create a likeness of the person when they were alive.

Richard’s facial reconstruction was carried out using the CT scans of the skull, programmed into a computer as a digital model.

The reconstruction went through several stages, this started with adding a jaw and using pegs to determine the depth of muscle and skin. Eyes and lips were then chosen from a database, and the nose was reconstructed using measurements from the nasal aperture (nose hole in the skull), and the angle of the small bone at the base of the aperture.

Then the skull was ‘fleshed out’. A layer of skin was placed over the muscle, using the tissue depth pegs. The reconstruction was finished off with hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and skin colour. The finished head was then made on a 3D printer before being painted and the hair and artistic fine details added.

The results of DNA testing carried out by Dr Turi King of the University of Leicester in early 2014 showed that King Richard’s hair was likely to have been blond, at least in childhood, and that he would have had blue eyes. As a result of these findings, the reconstruction was updated in March 2015.

In September 2015, Professor Wilkinson, Dr Phil Stone of the Richard III Society and Dr Turi King met at the Visitor Centre to discuss King Richard’s hair colour.

Although the DNA analysis has suggested he had blond hair and blue eyes in childhood, the colour of the hair on the facial reconstruction needs to be what would have been seen in adulthood. Using the portrait in the Society of Antiquaries of London as a guide, the hair is now a mid brown with a slight wave. Professor Wilkinson, Dr King and Phil Stone hope that this will be “the definitive image of the reconstruction with both scientific and historical evidence to support the hair colour and style.”