A French Artist Games French ID Card System As He Gets An ID Using A Computer-Generated Headshot


Images: Raphaël Fabre
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This will surely shake up the entire French ID card program! An artist, Raphaël Fabre, just beat the ID generation system by managing to get an official ID using a photorealistic computer-generated image of himself. The photo was approved without question, and since then has been doing rounds on the internet and media outlets.

The artists didn’t digitize his headshot using a laser scanner either. To make sure the CG headshot was as artificial as it can get, Fabre modelled it using a hand sketch and 3D software. He also used particle effects to create fake hair, and eventually used multiple renderers to make the headshot appear as if it was taken in a photo booth.

In an email, he wrote to Gizmodo:

“I thought at first of using a 3D scan, but I wanted the picture to come as much from the softwares as possible, so I started from a basic cube in Blender, that I modified and sculpted to make a basic human head. The model is then re-sculpted more precisely in another software… I still needed to use a texture from photographs of myself, which are painted by projection on the model. Back in blender, all the lights, shaders, are added. The clothes are 3D models too… Once the model is rendered in blender, the 2D image had to be a lot retouched to correct the lights, make my face more resembling… and the image needed to look like it came from a photobooth, and not like a 3D render.”

Fabre has earned a reputation for creating photorealistic headshots, as he claims that he tried to fool the audiences with 3D portraits before. But this is the first time he has rattled the official machinery by creating an astonishingly realistic fake headshot.

Images: Raphaël Fabre

One look at render and you can clearly see the computerized aspects of Fabre’s headshot.But since the grainy photo to be submitted to the ID system is no bigger than a business card, this detection is difficult even when comparing it with a real picture or a person.

France’s identity card isn’t compulsory for everyone, but it can be used as identification while traveling through Europe of other French territories, so the prospect of reevaluating the identification system won’t be an easy one for the French government.

The only fool proof method might be to require photos to be taken at approved government facilities, but this stunt once and for all proves that photographs are no longer a reliable way to authenticate a person’s identity!

But to be fair to the French authorities, he did make the picture look just like himself and provided all of the necessary documentation to show it was actually him submitting the application. For me, this isn’t some new security hole to be worried about. If he managed to get a federal ID with an image of the frog from Starfox 64 or Gumby, then yeah we would have a news story!

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