Stipple Portraits and the WSJ Hedcut Style

Turner Stipple portraits called hedcuts are drawings used by the Wall Street Journal. These intriguing portraits call to mind the engraving prints of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While they have the look of steel-cut engravings, they are not made with an engraving plate. What may surprise some people is learning that they aren’t computer generated either.

Stipple Portraits are Hand Drawn

Reiner Pearlstein Woman Instead, hedcut stipple portraits are meticulously hand drawn. The process starts with a high quality photograph of the subject. An artist then hand draws the portraits by stippling. That is, placing dots on the paper using ink pens. It is like pointillism except that in stippling the artist uses no colors.

 The artist spaces black ink dots on the page using a stippling pen. Dots are placed closer of further apart, and made larger or smaller in different parts of the drawing. This technique creates tonal shading that brings the image to life and creates a unique artistic vision of the portrait subject.

Stipple portraits came to the wall Street Journal in 1979 when Kevin Sprouls brought some examples of his art to the editor who felt the look and feel of Kevin’s ‘dot drawings’ matched the paper’s classical tone. Stipple portraits also provided much more realistic and lifelike portraits for the paper, which had always gone to lengths to avoid using photographs.

Stipple Portraits are Unique and Personal Art

Gropius Berenga Woman2

      A stipple portrait can offer more lifelike detail than a photograph can in certain uses. This is especially in newsprint. Stippling also brings a vibrant, unique charm to any portrait. Even art on high-resolution or larger format mediums like Digital displays and magazine pages can benefit from the stippling technique.

Many people now order their own stipple portraits for personal use. People use them for resumes and corporate portraits, or blog headers and social media avatars. Some even commission stipple portraits for the sake of pure art. You can also commission your very own hedcut style stipple portrait. It will be hand drawn by the artist that created this iconic American portrait style.

As the originator of the hedcut style, Kevin is now available to create a personal stipple portrait for you. Send Kevin a message from the contact page. He would be happy to discuss your portrait with you.

7 thoughts on “Stipple Portraits and the WSJ Hedcut Style

  1. Hi , How much is the cost to have a stipple portrait for myself that I can use for my website?
    Please let me know,
    Thank you!

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