Casting Two-Dimensional Bloody Shoe Prints from Concrete, Fabric, and Human Skin

A Review of Several Methods with Recommendations

Thomas W. Adair

   See also the instructional video "Casting Footwear Impressions"


The recognition of bloody footwear impressions at a crime scene is not an uncommon occurrence for the criminalist. Traditionally these impressions have been recorded by photography or videography either before and/or after chemical enhancement. Photography is an ideal method to begin with since it is considered to be non-destructive to the evidence. Chemical enhancement may improve the clarity and quality of the impressions as well, however, each enhancement technique may require additional skills of the analyst and/or equipment to appropriately document the evidence. Additionally, some agencies have limited resources and expertise in the development and photography of bloody footwear impressions, especially under low, or no light conditions. Several authors have discussed various photographic and chemical enhancement methods that work well for documenting such impressions (Barker 1999, Bevel and Gardner 2002, Gimeno and Rini 1989, and Gimeno 1989). Occasionally, however, the bloody impression may be found on a dark colored surface that makes traditional photography challenging. Barker’s (1999) discussion of colored filters for documenting bloodstains may produce very good results as long as the criminalist has the appropriate filter. Some small agencies however do not have photographic experts on staff and their access to, and knowledge of, appropriate filters may be limited. Knapp and Adach (2002) have written on the use of dental stone casting to record footwear and fingerprint impressions developed with various powders, but did not discuss blood impressions. In addition, while Knapp and Adach (2002) do test a high number of substrates, they do not investigate the same surfaces discussed in this paper. This is very understandable since concrete, fabric, and human skin are not known to be good deposition surfaces for the development of latent footwear or fingerprint impressions. In this paper the author has experimented with several casting materials on red colored concrete, fabric, and human skin, in an effort to transfer bloody shoe impressions onto a medium which offers better contrast for general photography. I do not suggest that traditional photography methods be supplanted by casting. I merely offer these techniques as an additional tool available to the analyst should general photography and chemical enhancement techniques yield less than desirable results.

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Open Access: The International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts Journal is an Open Access publication with all accepted and published manuscripts available at to members of the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts and the general public with permitted reuse. Prior to publication, the Journal will obtain a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license for all accepted manuscripts. This license allows for the distribution of published manuscripts provided proper credit is given to the author(s).