Creating the”Hedcut”

I was hired by the Wall Street Journal as a full-time employee in the Autumn of 1979. My starting salary was $20,000/yr. The portrait work was fun to do, and I was able to produce various other illustrations also, on a steady ongoing basis. The iconic “hedcut” (newspaper-speak, in use before my arrival) that is so well known today took a while to come into full-flower. I present the development of the hedcut style I created in 4 stages:

Early Attempts

I tried various styles for the suit and hair, to mix it up with the stipple technique. In the initial stages, the hair was always done with linework. 

Next Step…

Getting closer. Note the funky deckle effect on the middle portrait.

Almost There…

The hair has gone pointillistic, but Mr. Volcker still has a linear suit!

The Hedcut Comes of Age

What distinguishes a good quality portrait in this style is the structure of the “dot-field”. Aligning the marks into a grid matrix provides a more even tonal effect.

Finally, here is what one of these looks like up close, as in actual original art size. We discovered that the optimal reduction percentage for reproduction in print was 35%. Original art was generally 3″ x 5″ image size, and approximately 1″ x 1.75″ in the final print size. The Close-up:

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