How to Make a World War I Propaganda Poster

Updated November 21, 2016

World War I propaganda posters were used during the war effort to recruit soldiers or to procure aid by morally pricking the conscience of the nation.

To recreate a propaganda war poster, you need to a have a symbolic war image and slogan that evokes patriotism in the eyes of the viewer. The best way to achieve it is to visually dehumanize and ridicule the enemy. The objective of a propaganda poster is to incite the viewer to take positive action.

Research traditional World War I propaganda posters, available online or in history books, to observe the types of images and slogans used during the great war campaign. Source useful war images from that period to help you to design your own war poster.

Decide on a bold war image and political slogan to use in your poster, making sure it has something powerful and symbolic to say about the plight of the war and a political reason why a government needs the nation's support. Ask yourself what you demand of your viewer in response to your poster's content, and make sure that your poster design concept achieves your objective.

Create a preliminary study of your propaganda poster. Sketch your composition in rough, in pencil, using A3 or A4 sized white paper. Or you can paste a collage of photocopied images onto your paper as a mock-up, accompanied by a meaningful propaganda slogan. You could write the letters freehand or cut letters out of newspapers to paste onto your poster mock-up.

Take a fresh sheet of white A3 paper or A4 if you intend to scan it into your computer later. Use your preliminary study as a reference to draw your composition neatly in pencil.

Apply colour with a medium of your choice. You could use materials commonly used by war artists, such as graphite pencils, charcoal, india inks, watercolours or gouache. Notice that propaganda posters used dark, neutral and monochromatic hues in the main, and bright colours like red were used strategically to draw in the eye of the viewer.

Write your political slogan. You can write your letters freehand, copying from your mock-up, or you could use a Letraset font book for guidance or letter transfers, which are both available to buy online or in your local arts and craft store. Alternatively, you can scan your poster design into your computer and using either Microsoft Word or Publisher, you can choose from a range of fonts to write your slogan into your poster design. You could also use the format art tool to enhance the finish of your poster, if desired. Once you have completed your poster design, you can save the file and print out a copy, or you can save your poster to a USB storage pen and take it to a local printing company to print a larger poster of your chosen size.


Keep your composition simple and uncluttered.


Do not use too many bright colours as they can weaken the symbolic impact of your composition.

Things You'll Need

  • A3 or A4 sketchbook
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • War images
  • Letraset book or letter transfers
  • Colour medium
  • Optional
  • PC
  • All-in-one Printer/Scanner/Photocopier
  • Photocopies
  • Glue-stick
  • Newspapers
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