Hedcut Color Illustration Portraits

Peter O'Toole

I’ve produced countless thousands of portraits in the hallmark Wall Street Journal “Hedcut” style that I originated for the WSJ many years ago. Naturally, I have experimented with producing them as color illustration portraits.

My most successful effort is not, strictly, in the hedcut style. I produced this image while just getting started launching a full-time freelance career to conclude my day job at the Journal.

Peter O'Toole

Color Illustration – Peter O’Toole

Depicting Peter O’Toole as Henry the Second in the movie “Becket”, it’s been one of my most successful and remarked-upon illustrations.

A little earlier, during the 1980’s, I decided to try a color portrait of my then department-head at the Journal,Steve MacDonald. I consider Steve a good friend, and will go on record here to say he was a great boss to work for. This image was produced with watercolor-washes, colored pencil and colored inks.

Steve MacDonald

Headcut Color Illustration Portrait – Steve MacDonald

I tried coloring an illustration I did for the New Yorker magazine. Here is a portrait of Mary Astor, glam-girl actor of yesteryear…

Mary Astor Portrait

Color Illustration Portrait – Mary Astor

Having met the celebrated chef, Jeremiah Tower, I asked him to provide a photo for me. Here is his portrait in color:

Jeremiah Tower Portrait

Color Illustration Portrait – Jeremiah Tower

As with Astor and O’Toole, This is essentially a black ink over color image. Another approach in this genre is the result of an assignment for one of the casino companies. They commissioned a billboard and correlated print campaign based on engraving-like imagery portraying American Presidents from various dollar-bills. I was tasked with creating ornate headgear for Mssrs. Washington, Lincoln and Jackson. This is the Illustration for Andrew Jackson…

Color Illustration Portrait - Andrew Jackson

Color Illustration Portrait – Andrew Jackson

Getting back to The Wall Street Journal hedcut, I am occasionally asked for one of these in color, and am glad to create it. But recently, it has been my pleasure to work with Sarah Jones, from Drury University magazine. Sarah now takes care of the coloring work on color hedcuts that I’m commissioned with. Here’s one we did a few weeks ago. The client was very pleased with the result, and to have b&w and color versions of his portrait.

Hedcut Color Illustration Portrait - Kaufman

Hedcut Color Illustration Portrait – Kaufman

2 thoughts on “Hedcut Color Illustration Portraits

  1. I loved the way the color compliments the pen drawing with out sacrificing the
    Beautiful linework. Beautiful

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