Adventures in Digital History

Propaganda Campaign

Well, I’m glad to say that I’ve finally put the finishing touches on my portion of the Propaganda Campaign project we came up with for this class! I was excited to do this project because propaganda and advertisements have always fascinated me, from both a historical and creative standpoint. I believe we could have done a lot in terms of news reports, podcasts, posters, and political cartoons if given more time, but I’m happy with what we’ve managed in a week’s worth of time.

I was assigned to focused on a Social Campaign with two other classmates, Morgan and Nic. It has been a pleasure working with both of them, especially because they were so open to different ideas and sharing their own creative process. I decided to focus on an actual propaganda poster, while Nic wrote an article and Morgan made a podcast. We constantly bounced ideas back and forth in a group chat, getting ideas from one another and clarifying our social issue. The overall theme of our page was inspired by the movie Snowpiercer (2013)1, which features a society divided by social classes wholly contained on a train. Since this was meant to be a propaganda campaign for a dictator, we took the idea of a class system and ran with it. There’s just one very interesting part to this assignment I forgot to mention: it’s based on Candyland. In other words, our “dictator” is King Candy (who is being represented by Dr. McClurken in class).

Making the propaganda poster was a lot harder than I originally thought it would be. I came up with several ideas in the initial design phase, including replicating Rosie the Riveter or Uncle Sam as representations of Candyland. I decided to focus on Uncle Sam, taking inspiration from his steely gaze to create an imposing image of King Candy telling the citizens of Candyland what to do. I then tried to draw the image myself, only to discover my artistic skills were severely lacking. I’m actually a fairly decent artist, but human anatomy is hard. After ruining pages upon pages in my sketchbook, I decided to try my hand at digital art. The previous assignment we did in this class involved the colorization of old photographs, which I did using Pixlr to overlay and color a pre-1900s photograph of an African American teacher. I soon discovered creating digital artwork was a completely different ballgame. Despite using the same program, the process of creating the image I used for the poster was completely different and involved me making half a dozen different versions of the same image as I edited it.

I’m going to be honest and admit that I used an outlined image of Uncle Sam as the basis of my image. I took a screenshot of an image from Hovrah Animation’s YouTube video2, and set it as the background. From there I erased several parts of the image, including the hat and star motifs to give myself a “blank” canvas to work with. One of the best things about Pixlr is that you can create layers to overlay onto the image. This allowed me to sketch a crown and add other candy themed motifs to the image. I even gave him a mustache and added a peppermint “flower” to his lapel for style. Thankfully, coloring the image was much easier than creating it. As someone who grew up with the 1999 version of Candyland, I wanted to include some of the colors associated with the 1999 King Candy — specifically the pink hair. From there I decided to use a color befitting a king for his coat, such as royal purple for the coat and a darker shade of lavender for his lapels and cuffs. King Candy’s crown also sports a purple backsplash to match his coat. I used a golden yellow for his shirt and crown, being sure to include the red and white candy cane stripe that is once again reminiscent of the 1999 version of the game. My goal was to create an image of King Candy that was stern and regal, yet youthful and colorful, much like I imagine the citizens of Candyland would picture their king.

Image of the 1999 edition of Candyland’s box art. This is the version I took inspiration from. Image from Pinterest.3

The background and text were probably the easiest parts of this poster. Pixlr has a background removal program that let me experiment with colorful gradients and brush types. Most of the background is just me playing around with the various instruments until I was satisfied with what it looked like with my image of King Candy on top. The text itself is simply overlaid on the image. I have versions of the image with and without text, so this could potentially be used to create another slogan. I created the slogan on the poster myself after running some ideas by my teammates. “Your class is my class! We’re all sorted accordingly to be the best we can be!” This is a reference to the class system we had in mind for this project, such as the residents of the Candy Cane Forest living and working in Candy Cane Forest or those who live on Gumdrop Mountain to carrying out their lives there as well. It is also my attempt at word play. Saying the residents are “sorted” refers to candy assortments, which is an apt description for a Candyland themed class system.

The complete version of the propaganda poster I made for the Social Campaign. Made using Pixlr.

Overall, this project was really interesting. If this process is any indication of what people go through in an actual campaign, then I don’t envy them. While I was simply in charge of creating a propaganda poster, the process to create the image and then the time generating what text would go on the poster was more than a little frustrating and time consuming. Not only that, I have a much greater respect for digital artists. How someone can create beautiful artwork online without special tools is a mystery to me. While I may be proficient in photo editing, I’m not as skilled in the general artistic field. Despite this, this entire project has been a learning experience. Trying to convey a message by using very little is a challenge, one I hope to practice and put to use later in life.

  1. Bong Joon Ho et al., “Snowpiercer,” IMDb, August 2013,[]
  2. Hovrah Animation, “How to Draw Uncle Sam,” YouTube Video, YouTube, June 1, 2016,[]
  3. Ghost of the Doll, “Candy Land Kids | Candyland, Board Games, Candyland Board Game,” Pinterest, accessed March 14, 2021,[]

One Comment

  • Shannon Hauser

    I appreciate all the details you went in to in this post to explain how you and the group came up with ideas for the social campaign. You said right at the end, “Trying to convey a message by using very little is a challenge…”. Yes! This is such a big thing with effective visual rhetoric. All the little decisions from colors, text, to layout all make a difference in the final product. Clearly, you wrestled with those issues and decisions and the result was a poster that was really thinking about what would reach the people of Candy Land. Well done!

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