Sketches complement notes and photographs made during a crime scene search. A sketch communicates
information the way a photo does, but has the advantage of being able to have unneeded and distracting detail left
out. Sketches concentrate attention on the most essential elements of the crime scene and their relationships.
There are two kinds of crime-scene sketches: rough and finished. A rough sketch is the kind you draw while at
the crime scene. The purpose of a rough sketch is to portray information accurately, not necessarily artistically.
You do not need to be artistic to draw a good rough sketch. A rough sketch is usually not drawn to scale. But it
must show accurate distances, dimensions, and relative proportions. In order to eliminate excessive detail in a
sketch, you may have to draw more than one. For example, one sketch may be devoted to the position of the
victim's body and one or two of the more critical evidence items. Other sketches might show the location of
evidence items with respect to the point of entry or to other critical points. Do not make changes in your sketches
after you leave the scene.
A finished sketch is a draw to scale version of a rough sketch, from the information on the rough sketch. A
finished sketch does not need to be drawn by the same person who drew the rough sketch, however, he must
verify the accuracy of the finished sketch. It is best if the finished sketch is drawn by an experienced draftsman,
normally provided by the engineers office. The name of the person who drew the smooth sketch is shown in the
investigator's notes and on the sketch. A copy of the finished sketch is attached to each copy of the investigation
report. By making a scaled drawing, the numbers showing the distances can be omitted from the sketch.
MAKING A ROUGH SKETCH
Any kind of paper may be used for a rough sketch. However, bond or graph paper is best. It can be placed
on a clipboard large enough to form a smooth area for drawing. To prepare a rough sketch you need:
A soft lead pencil.
A 100-foot steel tape.
A straightedge ruler.
Several thumbtacks to hold one end of the steel tape down when you are working alone.
A magnetic compass.
You may add as many items to this list of basics as you like.
Several items of information are considered essential in a crime scene sketch. But do not restrict your
sketch to these items alone. The major constraint on detail in sketching is that the result must be completely
intelligible to a viewer without a detailed study. If you include too much detail, the major advantage of a sketch
over a photograph is lost.