Where do you find your inspiration? Unlike a lot of Western propaganda posters which tended to be negative, Chinese propaganda posters of the 20th century depicted an overly positive amalgamation of fact and fiction, showing both life as it is and ‘life as it ought to be’ to inspire the Chinese population. Negative elements were ignored altogether, and the focus was on heroic ‘everyman’ characters looking forward to building a united utopian future (despite the reality being very far from this).

This tutorial takes you through how to make a subversive pastiche of Chinese propaganda posters using Photoshop. To emulate the motivational tone of these posters we’ll be working on a theme of ‘inspiration’. To help you make a successful pastiche we recommend collecting a lot of reference pieces and viewing them all in one place, side by side (whether on a table or in Photoshop) so that you can easily compare them to each other and identify recurring elements.

Step 1 First off, find some images of original Chinese propaganda posters to use as inspiration. Create a new A4 landscape document. Select a colour of R 123, B 161, G 184. Press Shift + Backspace to bring up the Fill dialog box. In the Contents section, select Use: Foreground Color to fill the canvas with a pale blue.