The History of Propaganda Posters

Political cartoons and propaganda posters have been commonplace since the 19th century. Many newspapers used political cartoons as a way to express the publisher’s opinions about whatever the hot issue of the day was, and propaganda is simply an extension of that, with political parties using illustrations to increase awareness of their agenda.

One of the earliest, widely recognized political great cartoons is Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” image, which dates back to 1754. This cartoon used the metaphor of a snake to describe the need for unity – the states must join together, or die.
It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th century that artists started to produce the kind of political commentary cartoons and propaganda pictures that we are so familiar with today. This cartoon, published in The World in 1915 during World War I, shows “British Lion” and John Bull crying as they look at a paper detailing the American Protest. American cargo ships are docked in the harbour behind them. The caption, Hurting their Feelings, provides a cutting commentary on the events of the time.

Old British propaganda poster

Old British propaganda poster

During World War II, color propaganda illustrations and posters were popular, and cartoons were slightly more risque and daring. This American propaganda poster depicts an embarrassed Adolf Hitler wearing Swastika-covered boxers, surrounded by destroyed Panzer tanks. The pun, “catching him with his Panzers down” is quite simplistic, but it is an eye catching poster that did the job well.

World War 2 propaganda poster

World War 2 propaganda poster

We are fortunate enough to live in a time where propaganda posters are no longer needed, and artists have a lot more freedom to speak about their political opinions. Cartoons are still used for public health awareness, however, and propaganda posters such as the British “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters, or similar parodies with modern slogans, are popular retro decorative items.

Example of Cartoon Illustration I like

Illustration live of Silvano Minella on my Moleskine, Andrea Musso Illustrator
cartoon illustration
Image by Andrea Musso Illustratore
Music on my Moleskine, sketch on 23/06/2005, Associazione Cultura e Sviluppo, Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy

Illustration live of Micheal Bockmann on my Moleskine, Andrea Musso Illustrator
cartoon illustration
Image by Andrea Musso Illustratore
Music on my Moleskine, sketch on 13/05/2005, Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy

Like this Cartoon Illustration

Post Processing Illustration

So 1950s – the backyard chef grills steaks! VINTAGE PRESSED PAPER COASTERS with cartoon illustrations in a BBQ-Theme – brand new & never used
cartoon illustration
Image by EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin’ hook-y ;o)
How cool are these!?!

These coasters are illustrated with cartoon figures depicting a rakish-looking fellow in a chef’s hat at the backyard barbeque pit grilling huge steaks for his friends.

amore pacific company campaign cartoon
cartoon illustration
Image by nyoin
amore pacific company campaign cartoon

illust by hyoin min (a.k.a nyoin)

Tips for Drawing Great Cartoons

You don’t have to be a skilled artist to draw cartoons. Most cartoons are simplified versions of things that we see every day in real life. Once you learn to think about things from the point of view of a cartoonist, it’s easy to create compelling and interesting images.

Break Your image Into Its Simplest Elements

If you need to draw a tree, start with a rectangle, and add a triangle or a circle to the top. Make the rectangle brown, and the circle green, and there you go – you have the beginnings of a tree. You can add detail (roots, shadows) later if you wish.
Making a car is just as easy – two circles for the wheels, and a rectangle for the body. Gradually add details from there.

Use Layers When Working on Your Computer

10-Tips-for-Drawing-Great-CartoonsIf you are making your illustrations or cartoons on the computer, use an application like PhotoShop, which supports vector images and layers. Always work in vectors, rather than bitmaps (vectors can be resized easily, which is important if you want to print your images out). Layers are useful because they allow you to break the image down into several parts, and if something goes wrong you can just remove one layer rather than have to re-do the whole image.

Choose a Bold Colour Pallet

Cartoons are not supposed to be realistic. They’re bold, bright and simple. Don’t worry about finding the perfect shade of red or brown for your bricks, and don’t worry about fine details. Stick to a small range of bright colors, and don’t worry about making things completely realistic. When you’re creating a cartoon, you can sacrifice detail (and even, to a certain extent, scale) if it makes things look more interesting.
Use your imagination, and let people fill in the blanks – and above all, have fun with your images.