The Wall Street Journal is now offering a service to subscribers to get their own hedcut — the newspaper’s famous drawings.
Francesco Marconi, Carrie Reynolds and Emily Anderson of the Journal write, “But unlike the iconic drawings that traditionally appear alongside our journalism, artists aren’t involved in creating them—computer scientists are.
“These technology-generated versions are made in real time after you upload your photo. Each photo that is uploaded improves our artificial intelligence models, which we have spent a year training to visually evoke the special way that Journal artists have hand-drawn our signature images for the past 40 years.
“The hedcut is a drawing created largely out of dots and hatched lines. It stems from a centuries-old tradition that is also used around the world to illustrate currency. At the Journal, we typically use hedcuts to depict notable subjects in our stories and our journalists who write them. We also use this stippled style of drawing to illustrate our daily feature known as the A-Hed.
“Hedcuts first appeared on the front page of the Journal in 1979. Their classical feel suited the paper’s formal, famously text-heavy style at the time. Even as the Journal embraced more visuals across all our platforms in the decades since, the hedcut has persisted—becoming something of a status symbol for politicians, celebrities and reporters alike.”
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