Ḥadīth 1921: “The [prohibited] picture is [really] the head, so if the head is cut off, there is no picture.”
[…H]is saying ﷺ in Abu Hurairah’s ḥadīth, “Jibrīl came to me…” [to the end of] the ḥadīth bears supporting testimony to [the authenticity of ḥadīth 1921]: in it, [Jibrīl said], “So give an order that the head of the figure in the house be cut off so that it comes to take the form of a tree….”
So this is clear regarding the [ruling that] cutting the head of a formed image–a three dimensional figure–makes it like a non-image [in permissibility].
I [Shaikh Al-Albānī] say: And this is regarding the three dimensional figure, as we mentioned; as for images printed on paper or those embroidered on cloth, it is not enough to draw a line on the neck to make it appear as if [the head] has been cut off from the body.
Rather, it is a must that the head be removed, and with that, the distinguishing features of the image are changed, and it becomes, as he ﷺ said, “like a tree in form.”
So memorize this and do not be deceived by that which has come in some of the books of Islāmic jurisprudence and by those who have taken that as a base [upon which the ruling here is made].
Silsilah Al-Aḥādīth Aṣ-Ṣaḥīḥah, ḥadīth no. 1921, vol. 4, p. 554.
N.B.: Title mine (Trans.).