There are six steps to producing a hedcut for the Journal as this series of process drawings for a hedcut of Pfizer executive Karen Katen indicates. First, a photographic source image for the subject must be located. This can be culled from a wide variety of sources, ranging from personal snapshots to official publicity pictures, as in Katen's case. This image is then reduced or enlarged to a size of approximately 3 x 5 inches. (Originally done with a Photostat machine, Photoshop is now used.) Next, a tracing of the picture is made with pencil, indicating light and dark areas. The resulting image resembles a contour map. The artist then mounts the tracing paper on white illustration board, where the image is easier to see, and develops the subject's features with tiny dots and dashes, using technical pens. To produce a uniform finish, the artist builds up areas of shadow through a combination of small lines (cross-hatching) and dots. Solid blacks are never used; areas are darkened through a denser build-up of marks laid down by the artist. .

The process of producing a finished drawing generally takes about five hours, but for late-breaking stories, a picture can be hastily completed in two hours.