Creating the Wall Street Journal Hedcut Effect on a Photo

Original photo with converted sketch photo underneath

The Wall Street Journal first used the hedcut drawing technique in 1979 after artist Kevin Sprouls approached the paper with his line drawings. To this day, the paper is still using artists — not software — to create these hand-drawn hedcuts.

How to Create the Hedcut Effect

There isn't a software technique that can generate results as strikingly detailed as the hedcut stipple drawings used in The Wall Street Journal, though some attempts have been made. The primary reason is that these hedcuts are hand drawn and then printed in the newspaper.

With that said, you can get pretty close in Photoshop CC using the photo line art technique.

You can also find more advanced plug-ins for creating a stylish line drawing, woodcut, and inked effects listed under Halftone Line Screen & Line Art Plugins.

We also showed another way of accomplishing this task using a mobile app named SketchGuru which is available on iOS and Android versions. 

For more information on hedcut stipple drawings, see the article from Kevin Sprouls, Creator of the Wall Street Journal Hedcut Portrait, Sprouls Method — the Hedcut, a blog post from Kevin Sprouls.

Updated by: Tom Green