In vivo spectra from human subjects can be simulated with a phantom composed of different layers of water, fat and muscle tissue. All three components are necessary to simulate in vivo spectra collected over the combination spectral region (5000–4000 cm−1). Muscle tissue is not required, however, to accurately simulate overtone spectra (6600–5400 cm−1). The near-IR spectral characteristics of fat and muscle tissue from several animal sources are essentially identical to those found for human tissue, hence, the animal source for these phantom components is not critical. Thickness of each tissue layer can be determined by a regression analysis where the in vivo spectrum of interest is regressed against standard absorbance spectra of the necessary model components (water, fat and muscle). In general, in vivo overtone spectra collected across human webbing tissue with a thickness of 6.7 mm can be simulated with water layer thicknesses ranging from 5.0 to 6.4 mm combined with fat layer thicknesses from 1.4 to 4.2 mm.