Evaluating 3D human face reconstruction from a frontal 2D image, focusing on facial regions associated with foetal alcohol syndrome


  • Felix Atuhaire Department of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5160-1269
  • Bernhard Egger 1.Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; 2.Department of Computer Science, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4736-2397
  • Tinashe Mutsvangwa Division of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1210-2832




3D morphable models, model fitting, face reconstruction, fetal alcohol syndrome, 3D face analysis


Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a preventable condition caused by maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The FAS facial phenotype is an important factor for diagnosis, alongside central nervous system impairments and growth abnormalities. Current methods for analysing the FAS facial phenotype rely on 3D facial image data, obtained from costly and complex surface scanning devices. An alternative is to use 2D images, which are easy to acquire with a digital camera or smart phone. However, 2D images lack the geometric accuracy required for accurate facial shape analysis. Our research offers a solution through the reconstruction of 3D human faces from single or multiple 2D images. We have developed a framework for evaluating 3D human face reconstruction from a single-input 2D image using a 3D face model for potential use in FAS assessment. We first built a generative morphable model of the face from a database of registered 3D face scans with diverse skin tones. Then we applied this model to reconstruct 3D face surfaces from single frontal images using a model-driven sampling algorithm. The accuracy of the predicted 3D face shapes was evaluated in terms of surface reconstruction error and the accuracy of FAS-relevant landmark locations and distances. Results show an average root mean square error of 2.62 mm. Our framework has the potential to estimate 3D landmark positions for parts of the face associated with the FAS facial phenotype. Future work aims to improve on the accuracy and adapt the approach for use in clinical settings.


Our study presents a framework for constructing and evaluating a 3D face model from 2D face scans and evaluating the accuracy of 3D face shape predictions from single images. The results indicate low generalisation error and comparability to other studies. The reconstructions also provide insight into specific regions of the face relevant to FAS diagnosis. The proposed approach presents a potential cost-effective and easily accessible imaging tool for FAS screening, yet its clinical application needs further research.


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How to Cite

Atuhaire, F., Egger, B., & Mutsvangwa, T. (2023). Evaluating 3D human face reconstruction from a frontal 2D image, focusing on facial regions associated with foetal alcohol syndrome. South African Journal of Science, 119(3/4). https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2023/12064



Face Science Research Article