Square Zero

Producing WSJ-Style Hedcuts

Posted by Eric (July 31, 2007 at 5:00 pm)

Brejcha hedcutI’ve been working on a new design for the Thomas More Society website—this is the original Thomas More law firm that defended my father, Joe Scheidler in the landmark NOW v. Scheidler RICO suit.

It remains to be seen if I can meet my deadlines and actually see the new design published, but meanwhile I want to share a discovery.

For the TMS homepage I wanted to use a Wall Street Journal style “hedcut” of Tom Brejcha, the lead attorney at TMS—and the guy I’ve got on speed dial when I have to deal with police out on the street protesting abortion.

I couldn’t find any quick instructions on how to do this (the hedcuts made famous by the WSJ are hand drawn—good for them!). So I threw something together myself using Corel PhotoPaint. Should be easy to do with PhotoShop too.

I started with a color photograph, converted to grayscale (I also sharpened the image). First I cropped the background out of the original photograph (I used a feather mask to avoid jagged edges), and created an object out of the remaining head and shoulders. I resampled this to the size I wanted.

Next I used a transparency effect to fade out the bottom of the image. On reflection, I should have skipped this step; I don’t think it was really necessary.

I copied the object and saved the copy in another file so I could bring it back in when I wanted it, then converted the object I’d been working on to black-and-white using the Floyd-Steinberg conversion at 50% intensity. This gave me the stipple-effect characteristic of the WSJ hedcut—but rather raw.

Now I pulled in the copy I’d made before converting to black-and-white as another object and placed it over the black-and-white version. I set this object at 60% opacity.

The last step was to combine the two objects with the white background and export at a GIF. You see the results above.

This is just a first shot, and I’ve already tinkered with other approaches—putting the “stipple” object on top at 50% opacity, for example, with the grayscale object at 100% opacity. I don’t have time to play with it more, but I’m pleased enough with the results for now.

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5 Responses to “Producing WSJ-Style Hedcuts”

  1. Susan Peterson says:

    I followed the link for “deal with police” and saw the graphic for “First trimester abortion.” Usually I defent the use of such pictures as not hiding the reality of what abortion is.

    But today I just could not stand to see them for a moment. One of my daughters (age 28, not in any way in my control) just had an abortion at around 12 weeks. I have been lying in bed every night fighting off remembering what I know of these pictures. Right now this is a reality which is just more than I can bear. It is good if people see them ahead of time. Perhaps it is good to see them once afterwards if it makes you understand and repent. But what about all of the not-grandmothers out there?

    PS I am a grandmother, of 7, mother of 9. But I guess I am a Not grandmother of this not anymore child. Very difficult to deal with.

    Comment posted September 11th, 2007 at 4:29 pm
  2. james says:

    eric –
    where ARE you, mate???

    Comment posted October 2nd, 2007 at 2:54 pm
  3. Frank says:

    eric –
    where ARE you, mate???

    He (???) is hiding like a spineless pussy from the prochoicers who kick his lying ignorant ass on a daily basis. Goooooo PP!

    Come out, come out, wherever you are!!!!!!

    Comment posted October 14th, 2007 at 5:46 pm
  4. Molly says:

    I am so sorry Susan. I can’t imagine how you must feel.

    Frank, if you’re going to post please keep things civil.

    Comment posted October 14th, 2007 at 6:16 pm
  5. Eric says:

    Desperate-for-Attention says: “He (???) is hiding like a spineless pussy from the prochoicers who kick his lying ignorant ass on a daily basis.”

    Boy, if what I’ve been doing has been “hiding” then I really suck at hiding! 

    Funny choice of words, too—for one who claims to be “pro-choice” to use a term so very offensive for women. Oh well.

    Comment posted October 15th, 2007 at 12:39 am