The project to reconstruct the face of Richard iii was carried out in collaboration with archaeologists from Leicester University. The first stage of the facial reconstruction of Richard iii was carried out by Professor Caroline Wilkinson from CT scans of skeletal remains found in a Leicester car park adjacent to Leicester Cathedral.
Aitken’s contribution to the project involved combining portrait painting and sculpture techniques with photography and textiles to create realistic surface textures, features and appropriate hair and costume details. The process of combining the use of contemporary portraits as references along with photographic references taken specifically for the project is a technique that has been developed by Aitken over the past five years specifically for the purpose of this type of work. Although there is a considerable amount of work in the field of facial reconstruction using photographs alone to create facial textures, the balance and combination of painting, photography and digital animation techniques used by Aitken as part of the Dundee team is new. Creating textures, clothing and hair to enhance the appearance of the facial reconstruction is key to public engagement with the artifact, helping to facilitate the perception of the reconstructed as a human being.
The work was commissioned by Channel 4 as part of their documentary, ‘The King in the Car Park’ first broadcast in February 2013. Both Aitken and Wilkinson appeared as experts in the documentary. It is also an intrinsic element in the exhibition ‘Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King’ which is currently touring venues across England.