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Forensic scientists casting footwear impressions

Making your own footwear marks

This is a simple way of making a footwear mark impression. The instructions below are also available in a handy PDF document which can be found in the ‘downloads’ section at the bottom of this page for you to print out.

What you need:

  • An old shoe (or shoes)
  • Some olive oil
  • Some hot chocolate powder
  • Piece of white paper
  • Small paintbrush

What to do:

  1. Use an old shoe!

  2. Lightly paint the bottom of your shoe sole with the olive oil.

  3. Press the shoe onto a sheet of the white paper, (or stand on the paper while wearing the shoe).

  4. If you can’t see the mark then brush on some of the hot chocolate powder and that may help visualise the mark. Blow away any excess powder.

  5. Look at your footwear impression see if you can identify the class characteristics and then any individual characteristics, such as cuts or wear marks. Try this activity with other kinds of shoes to see the difference. Do all of your shoes show the same wear characteristics?

  6. If you want to, take a photograph of your tests mark and share it with the other participants using a site like Flickr. and put a link in the discussion (this is optional). You may find reading the ‘Sharing images with other learners on FutureLearn’ guide useful.

  7. Make sure you clean off the sole of the shoe before you walk in the shoes!

There is also a link in the ‘downloads’ resource section at the bottom of the page to some examples of footwear and tyremarks so that you can see what recovered marks can sometimes look like. Can you determine class and individual characteristics in these marks? We will use the images in this PDF document in the next discussion.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Forensic Science

University of Strathclyde