From mortuary photo to life-like facial reconstruction powered by AI.
I have an interest in mysteries and true crime cases. Especially when they really make you puzzle over them. Which is exactly what you get with the Somerton Man also known as the Tamam Shud Case. It’s an unidentified person case that takes place in Adelaide Australia in the 1940s. He was found on a beach with no means of identification other than a piece of paper that was torn out of a book. It reads “Tamam Shud,” a Persian phrase meaning “it is ended.” Nobody knows who this man is which is why he’s referred to as the Somerton Man - the name of the beach he was found on.
It gets much weirder than that. There’s so many bizarre twists and turns it almost sounds like something out of a movie. But this is real case. Some even think based on items later found and believed to belong to the Somerton Man, that he may have been involved in spy activities. One of the items is a coded message written in the same book the Tamam Shud phrase was torn out of. It’s way too much for me to go through on here since my blog isn’t about true crime and mysteries. I’ll be sure to include links below to more on the Somerton Man AKA “Tamam Shud” case if you’d like to read more about it.
I saw LordanARTS (one of my favourite true crime YouTubers) cover the case and that got me thinking of trying a reconstruction of his face. Although there has already been an AI rendering of The Somerton Man done by another artist, I wanted to do one too just because. Sometimes it can be helpful to have different viewpoints.
I’ve had great results bringing out facial features in a damaged vintage/antique photo to get a clearer idea of what the person looked like. So much so, I was asked by someone researching the history of an old house in the city I live in if I would do it on another old photo of a suspected relative of the first photo I did. There was definitely a resemblance! That’s what got me curious to see what would happen if I tried the same AI and techniques I used before on the Somerton Man.
All of the images I made started with the original Somerton Man mortuary photo and a physical description. I made a few variations before exporting to photoshop for manual adjustments. After that, back to the AI for finishing touches before adding him to some scenes. Among some of the items believed to belong to the Somerton Man were some train and bus tickets. That’s what gave me the ideas for the vintage scenes. Feels almost like going back in time with him.
I want to make it clear that I didn't do this for any kind of clout or with any disrespect at all towards the man behind this mysterious case. Working with his picture made it feel like I got to know him in some small way. I’d love it if this AI reconstruction ended up being helpful towards giving the Somerton Man his identity back. If that's what he would have wanted. Either way it's a more dignified way of remembering him. He was so much more than an unidentified person case. I had a great time working on this project!
Here’s some links for more information on the Somerton Man / Tamam Shud Case