Hedcuts are working drawings of approximately three by five inches (or exactly 18 x 31 picas-a typographical unit), intended for reproduction at one-third scale. A close examination of the surface of these images occasionally reveals faint pencil lines laid down to guide the artist or gouache used to adjust marks. At the top of each hedcut is an identifying code, or "slug" consisting of two letters and three digits. Each portrait is then identified with the name and title of the sitter.
The Hand of the Artist
The original stipple hedcut drawings are frequently annotated with the initials of the artist and the date of its execution, which makes it possible to compare the hands of different artists. Although published hedcuts are not signed, each illustrator does have a personal approach to interpreting the "dot" technique. Compare for example the illustrations of Jerry Yang, below, made by two different artists who appear to be using the same source image. Nancy Januzzi, whose drawing is on the right, plays up two strands of hair falling over Yang's forehead, while James Roberts leaves only one piece of stray hair. Januzzi opens Yang's mouth slightly and reduces the visible buttons to one, in contrast to Roberts. Even the pattern of stipple marks is different, with Januzzi laying hers down in rings and curves, while Roberts favors rows of marks.
Although the date of execution is often noted on the finished hedcut drawing, it does not necessarily correspond to the drawing's publication. Because of the Journal's interest in extended analysis, many storiesand accompanying hedcutsmay be prepared well before they run. And other editorial decisions come into playlate-breaking news or even concerns about layout may determine whether or not a hedcut accompanies a story.
The Hedcut Format
The half-column format of the hedcut is carefully proscribed. Ideally artists aim for source photographs in which the subject's mouth is closed. "It used to be that the reporters didn't dare send photos of people smiling, because the art department couldn't do teeth," joked reporter Meg Cox in 1989. The source image is then generally cropped ear to ear, for maximum exposure of the face. While this guideline is generally easily interpreted for men, women's hairstyles sometimes present challenges. For more on this see "Picturing Women in Business."