The examination of facial morphology is an active field of interdisciplinary research. For instance, the Affective Computing community aims to establish algorithmic methods for the detection of expressions and their emotional coding from facial imagery. Similarly for treatment planning in facial surgery or as stimuli for experiments in perception research, morphological patterns of aging or the development of a particular expression are used for morphings of individual 3D morphology. Many digital techniques used throughout the various fields are based on morphological knowledge that is usually obtained by application of statistical methods and machine learning. The goal of this project is to develop a set of tools for establishing morphological databases as well as statistical methods for the examination of morphological patterns contained in here.

3D Mimik-Archiv

As a basis of our research, we aim in establishing a morphological database covering a broad range of inter-individual factors like sex, ethnicity but also intra-individual variation related to expressions. Together with our cooperation partners from psychology, we are investigating new experimental paradigms to capture a broad range of facial performances, posed and spontaneous expressions for the collection of the 3D Mimik-Archiv.


Posed facial expressions (surface and photographic texture) from the 3D Mimik-Archiv captured in our Studio Camera Facialis.

Statistical Models of Facial Shape and Texture

Statistical shape models (SSMs) are well-known tools for the assessment and analysis of the morphology of human anatomy. Within this project, we are developing new algorithms that allow to automatically generate SSMs from large-scale databases for the statistical examination of inter- and intraindividual facial morphology.


An SSM capturing interindividual shape variation (left) and an similar model for facial expressions (right).

Cultural Dimensions of Digital Facial Morphology

First work on the analysis of physiognomy is often dated back to the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Their work has been the foundation for the analysis of facial morphology and its critically discussed attribution to stereotypes and personal characteristics during history. Similarly, the analysis of affects and their manifestation in facial expressions has its roots in the work of the Greek philosophers. Through theories of affect and emotions, this association can still be identified in digital techniques for the coding of emotions from facial images today.

Together with our cooperation partners from the HU Cluster of Excellence and the Center for Literary and Cultural Research, we study these historical and cultural dimensions of current computer-aided methods. The aim is to identify the epistemic freight that is implicitly present in digital tools, such that it can be returned explicitly as part of our research.