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Vol. 6, No.

1, April 2003

FORENSIC DO CUME NT EXAMINATION/Certification Failure: 28-06-98-01/0304

Using a TLC scanner to examine and distinguish inks used on genuine documents or coloured reproductions.
by K. M. Varshney2 and V.K.Mehrotra3
REFERENCES: Varshney, K. M. and Mehrotra, V. K., "Differentiating During the copying process, these basic toners are fused by heat
Colour Copies Of Sketch Pen Writing By Spectral Analysis Using A and pressure onto paper in different proportions, depending upon the
TLC Scanner — A Nondestructive Approach," The International colours of the original document. Only the active area i.e coloured
Journal of Forensic Document Examiners, Vol. 6, No. 1, April 2003, pp. part of the document, will have the toner.
1-6. Although the colours of written matter (i.e. pen inks) and their
corresponding xerox copies look alike, the printing and writing inks
ABSTRACT: A non-destructive technique explores the use of a TLC have their own composition and will certainly be different from the
scanner for the differentiation of sketch pen writing from its colour xerox toners of the colour photocopies generated. The composition of the ink
copies. Different coloured sketch pen writings and their colour xeroxed depends on the particular source of the writing instrument. Therefore
copies were scanned by a TLC scanner to get their in-situ visible spectrum two writings may appear to be the same colour but originate from
with slight improvisation. Any colour sketch pen writing and its colour different sources (manufacturers) and therefore be of different
xerox copy may be scanned and examined in the same way as the compositions. However, the colour toners from the colour xerox of the
separated spots on a TLC plate. The original writing or the colour xerox genuine document will be present on the paper. While it may be
copies of the writing must be isolated in order to be scanned. This is shown that there is little difference between the genuine and colour
accomplished by masking the document with a non-transparent white copy upon visual examination, non-destructive analysis will show
paper sheet with slits of appropriate dimensions of the written and colour variation between the two similar documents.
xeroxed samples to be examined. Results indicate that any portion of any The literature reveals a variety of examinations designed to analyze
colour sketch pen writing and its colour xeroxed can be scanned and and differentiate inks [1-6] and photocopying toners [7-16]. The
differentiated from each other based on their resultant in-situ visible methods are either destructive or semi-destructive in nature. The
spectrum. This is possible without the separation of the constituents of authors have applied the use of a Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)
written and colour xeroxed matter. The technique is nondestructive in Scanner to examine currency notes and characterize the different
nature and offers a broad range of applications in forensics for the colour inks on these instruments [17]. Sarin et al. have examined
examination of written and printed matter prepared with various inks, forged colour documents by a non-destructive method using
colour xeroxed documents and or other document prepared with coloured Micro-RAS FTIR spectroscopy [18]. Some colour xerox copiers leave
matter. their codes on the xerox copies which are not visible under normal
viewing conditions.
KEYWORDS: Sketch pen writing, XEROX colour copy, TLC-scanner, Although decoder machines are used to identify the hidden codes
spectral analysis. on the copies and therefore the colour copier responsible, the decoders
are costly and generally not readily available to laboratories. Based on
INTRODUCTION this it was felt that an alternative, less expensive, and readily available
method could be developed to nondestructively differentiate an
Colour copying is widely used in photocopying and the reproduction original document from its colour xerox copy. The TLC scanner is a
and creation of coloured posters, drawings, written and printed documents widely available and routinely used instrument for scanning
etc. In some instances the colour reproduction cannot be differentiated chromatograms on TLC plates for qualitative and quantitative analysis
from the original. of separated substances. This instrument was a suitable choice to
This widely used colour reproduction process generates impressive attempt to distinguish between sketch pen writings and their colour
results in the field of photocopying. It is these results that attract its xerox. The following discusses the results of the use of the TLC
misuse for criminal activity such as the creation or generation of forged scanner for this application.
documents for commercial transactions.
The xerox colour copying process uses thermosetting resins and dyes EXPERIMENTAL
in the form of toners. The colours of the four basic toners which are used
in multi-colour xeroxing are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These Samples
toners, in the form of powders, are filled into separate cartridges in the
copier. Eleven written examples of different colour inks (blue, black, red,
green, brown, orange, yellow etc. of Luxor manufacture) sketch pens
Presented at the International Conference on Forensic Documents, and their colour xerox on white plain paper copies were prepared for
Bangalore, India, January 20 - 22, 1998. this study.
Assistant Director, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Bureau Of
Police Research and Development, Ramanthapur, Hyderabad-500013, Equipment
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Director, Central Forensic Science laboratory, Bureau Of Police Research Camag TLC Scanner -II coupled with computer PC AT 386 with
and Development, Ramanthapur, Hyderabad-500013, Andhra Pradesh, Camag software was used for scanning. Slit/window preparation: the
India. line/stroke of written and colour xeroxed examples to be examined is

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The International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners

traced on a trace paper. The windows/slits of appropriate size of these pattern compared to the previous figure.
lines/strokes were prepared on a thick, smooth and non-transparent white The scanning of other written matter of ten sketch pens of different
paper sheet using a sharp blade and a ruler. inks and their respective colour xerox, disclosed the written entries
with different colour inks gave different spectral patterns. Figure 6
Scanning shows the spectra of green and black ink written entries.
The spectra of the coloured xerox of the same inks are found to be
The samples were covered with the thick paper sheet having slits identical and colour xerox of different colour inks give spectra of
prepared as above in such a way that only the written and colour xeroxed different patterns. Figure 7 shows the spectra of colour xeroxed copies
entries to be examined should be exposed through the windows/slits. The of green and black inks written entries. However, the colour xerox of
exposed sample of the written and colour xerox samples were scanned at some of the similar shade inks give almost identical spectra but were
a wavelength of 550 nm in absorbance mode for the densitogram and then found to be different from written entries of their respective colour
scanned for their in-situ visible spectra in the range of 400 to 800 run by inks. On copmparison of these in-situ visible spectra it was found that
TLC scanner. the spectra of written entries of the different inks differ appreciably in
their patterns compared with the spectra of colour xerox of their
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION respective colours except for the yellow colour in which a little
difference was found.
The preparation of window/slits on thick, smooth and non-transparent
sheets of white paper and fixing it with sample are important conditions SUMMARY
for the successful application of this non-destructive technique. The slits
must be of specific size and fixed in such a way as to allow the exposure The TLC scanner was successfully used in the scanning of written
of only the specific portion bearing ink and toner of the written and colour entries of different ink sketch pen writings and their colour xeroxed
xeroxed samples to be examined with the rest of the document remaining documents for their densitograms and in-situ visible spectra. The
masked. The document masked with white paper resembles that of a technique is non-destructive and does not require any sample
chromatogram on a TLC plate. The slits exposing the written and colour preparation except slit preparation for the windows. The technique has
xeroxed media (ink and toner lines) on the document resemble the colour applications in the examination of printed documents, written matter
separated spots on a TLC plate. Any document of written xerox entries can of different type of inks, their colour xerox copies and other allied
be masked with slits around the coloured lines for examination by TLC problems. This technique describes the differentiation of written matter
scanner. from their colour xerox copies based on in-situ visible spectrum
A model of a thick sheet of white paper bearing slits of various analysis by TLC scanner.
dimensions designed for scanning the two documents of writing and its
colour xeroxed matter in a single experiment is shown in Figure 1. The REFERENCES
wavelength used for scanning depends upon the colour to be examined.
1. Varshney K.M.; Jettappa Tonni; Mehrotra V.K.; and Baggi TR,
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2. Lofgren, A.; and Andrasko, J., "HPLC analysis of printing

inks",Journal of Forensic Science, Vol.38, No.5, September 1993,

3. Jasuja, O. P.; and Singla, A.K., "Thin-layer chromatographic

analysis of fibre-tip and hitechpoint pen inks", Indian Journal of
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4. Jasuja, O.P.; and Singla, A.K., and Seema, B.L., "Thin-layer

chromatographic analysis of Indian stamp pad inks", Forensic
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5. Tappolet, J.A., "The high-performance thin layer chromatography

(HPTLC). Its application to the examination of writing inks",
Forensic Science .International, Vol. 22, No.1, July, 1983, pp.
Figure 1: Photograph of white paper sheet with slits of various dimensions
for scanning the written and colour xeroxed documents. 6. Verma, RS.; Prasad, K.N.; and Mishra, G., "Thin-layer
chromatographic analysis of fibre-tip pen inks", Forensic Science
This wavelength (A - max) for the scanning can also be determined International, Vol. l3, 1979, pp. 65-70.
from the in-situ visible spectrum of the colour of interest. However, the
study has determined that many colours are scanned at 550 run. 7. Merrill, R.A.; Bartick, E.G.; and Mazella, W.D., "Studies of
Figures 2 and 3 show the densitograms of written matter and its colour techniques for analysis of photocopy toners by IR", Journal of
xerox copy using three and two slits tracks, respectively, on the scanner. Forensic Science, Vol. 41, (2), 1996, pp. 264-271.
The noise observed during the scanning depends upon the quality and
smoothness of the paper and the sharpness of the slits. Their in-situ visible 8. Andrasko, J., "Simple method for sampling photocopy toners for
absorbance spectra are shown in Figures 4 and 5 which are of a different examination by micro reflectance Fourier transform infra-red

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Vol. 6, No.1, April 2003

spectrophotometry", Journal of Forensic Science, Vol. 39(1), 1994, pp. 14. Zimmerman, J.; Mooney, D.; and Kimmett, M.J., "Preliminary
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13. Lennard ,C.J.; and Mazzella ,W.D., "Simple combined technique for 18. Sarin, R.K. ; Rasool, S.N.; Krishna Murty, A.S.R.; and Mehrotra,
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Figure 2: One of the densitograms of written matter with blue ink using three slits track.

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The International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners

Figure 3: One of the densitograms of colour xerox copy of written matter with blue ink .

Figure 4: In-situ visible spectra of written matter with blue ink.

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Vol. 6, No.1, April 2003

Figure 5: In-situ visible spectra of colour xerox copy of written matter with blue ink .

Figure 6: In-situ visible spectra of written matter with green and black inks.

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The International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners

Figure 7: In-situ visible spectra of colour xerox copies of written matter with green and black inks.

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