Mary, Queen of Scots modelled in 3D

3D image of Mary, Queen of Scots There were no portraits which were painted during Mary's time in Scotland

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The face of Mary, Queen of Scots has been recreated in 3D by a team of experts from the University of Dundee.

The team were commissioned to produce a virtual sculpture of Mary's face, for a new exhibition opening in Edinburgh.

They have previously worked on major projects to reconstruct the faces of Bach and Richard III, among others.

Images show her face as it would have been throughout her reign in Scotland, from the ages of 19 to 26.

Start Quote

The paleness of her skin, red hair, and strong features meant she had a very striking appearance”

End Quote Professor Caroline Wilkinson University of Dundee

Professor Caroline Wilkinson, from the Forensic and Medical Art Research Group, has created a head-and-neck model using portraits of Mary.

The model was created using 3D modelling software and craniofacial templates.

Digital artist Janice Aitken sculpted clothing and hair - then added textures and lighting to create the finished image.

Difficult time

Prof Wilkinson said: "There were no portraits painted during Mary's time in Scotland, but there were both before and after this period.

"What we wanted to do was depict how she would have looked at the time she lived in Scotland.

"Mary had quite a big nose and a strong chin so when you describe her verbally she doesn't sound attractive, but the paleness of her skin, red hair, and strong features meant she had a very striking appearance."

Ms Aitken then put textures on the model and coloured the skin, hair and eyes to ensure it looked as realistic as possible.

Religious strife

Mary succeeded to the Scottish throne when her father, King James V died just days after her birth, meaning Scotland was ruled by regents for most of her early years.

She was sent to live in France aged just five and remained there until she returned a widow 14 years later to find a country in the midst of serious religious strife.

Following a tumultuous reign, Mary was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son and, after an unsuccessful attempt to regain her throne, fled to England seeking the protection of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.

She spent 18 years in custody before finally being found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth and was subsequently executed.

The Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition opens on Friday at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and runs until November.

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