The art of political Photoshopping

Nick Clegg as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones Image copyright Liberal Democrats
Image caption Nick Clegg as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones

The Liberal Democrats have edited pictures of party leaders onto images from the TV show Game of Thrones - but a leading online meme artist tells BBC Trending they and other parties have much to learn about the art of political Photoshopping.

The US fantasy drama Game of Thrones has been a huge trend on social media, with 50,000 tweets before a new season launched this weekend. That makes it an ideal canvas for some creative Photoshopping - the art of digitally editing images, especially using a particular brand of software. Enter the Liberal Democrats, with their latest social media campaign tactic.

They've released a photoshopped image of most of the main party leaders as characters from the series. Nick Clegg is of course portrayed as the hero of the series, Jon Snow, a "Noble Warrior" claims the image, "ignoring the petty Games of the other leaders, the Warrior focuses on doing what's right for Westeros, no matter the personal cost". Also he's "often seen saving the world alongside his trusty red-headed companion", a reference to Danny Alexander.

Image copyright Liberal Democrats
Image caption David Cameron gets the Westeros treatment

Most of the opposing party leaders have also been given the Westeros treatment; David Cameron is called "the boy king" and made to look like one of the baddies Joffrey Baratheon, while Ed Miliband is accused of being a character named Stannis Baratheon "the tragic Younger Brother (who) lives in the shadow of his older, better-loved sibling, and whose profligacy bankrupted the state."

Image copyright Liberal Democrats
Image caption Ed Miliband as Stannis Baratheon

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson told BBC Trending that the images where created by a volunteer. "It is just a bit of light-hearted content, not an attempt to send out a hard-hitting political message. For many of our activists, the campaign can be long and hard - giving them something to laugh about can do a world of good," they said.

In fact, British politics has a rich history of Photoshop satire. One of the artists whose political memes or images are being widely shared in this election is Neil Hepburn, who runs the Beau Bo D'or twitter account. His image of David Cameron holding a flying pig has been one of the most shared images on Twitter over the past few days, and he has also satirised several of the other party leaders in recent weeks.

He told BBC Trending that the Liberal Democrat's images "in their attempt to reach a younger audience" were in his view "insulting the electorate."

Image copyright Twitter: beaubodor

"The Lib Dems [image editors] have failed in many respects here but I'll concentrate on two," he said. "The faces are nearly all wrong. Just a few minutes extra searching for a good match can make things look so much better, and there has been no attempt to match colours or blend the faces into the underlying image - absolutely dreadful." He doesn't think much of the use of Game of Thrones, either. "To me it's: 'Let's think of a really popular show and paste something on to it. The kids will love it.'"

So far the Liberal Democrats images have only been shared a few dozen times. Hepburn's work has had more shares, though still only in the hundreds.

Image copyright Twitter: Beaubodor
Image caption Nick Clegg as Sandy from Grease

Reporting by Hannah Henderson

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