what is a mood board

What Is a Mood Board and How to Create One?

Mood boards are almost everywhere. Social media is flushed with digital mood boards, and some websites, like Pinterest, are completely dedicated to them.

Mood boards are beautiful to look at, inspirational, and fun to create.

In this article, we will look at exactly what a mood board is, the different types of mood boards, and how you can express your creative freedom and design your own mood board.

What is a Mood Board?

Mood boards are visual metaphors which are created by combining images, textures, colours, text or samples. The aim of a mood board is to convey a certain topic, concept or style. Mood boards are commonly used by designers, photographers or other creative people to bring across their ideas or concepts for a project.

A mood board is also called an inspiration board because that is exactly what it does – it inspires. Mood boards are useful tools to help develop and express ideas.

Photo by laura adai on Unsplash

Different Types of Moodboards

Methodology

There are two different methods used to create mood boards.

Digital mood board

Digital mood boards do not require graphic design skills. It is easy to create this type of mood board using online tools and images and to source inspiration from other creatives.

Physical mood board

Physical mood boards will involve sticking images, texts, and samples to a real board – like a foam board or cardboard. You can make use of fabrics, cut-outs from magazines or newspapers, as well as different patterns, to create your board.

Content

Practical mood boards

This type focuses on a specific project and will include design elements that will be included in the final design of the product or project.

Explorative mood boards

These mood boards are more of a creative process and explore different styles and design elements before the project’s first draft or product is produced. This is useful for interior design.

Mixed mood boards

These boards combine both exploratory and practical components. It requires a clear direction but also an open mind.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Why are Mood Boards Required?

Mood boards are not just a simple collage that brings your mental images into the real world. Mood boards actually serve a much bigger role – they are used to organise thoughts and make sure you stay on track with your project.

Mood boards serve the following purposes:

  • Inspire: Mood boards serve as a source of inspiration, especially early in the project. They are a visual representation of your ideas and concepts and can be used to help you find direction and the design style you want to work towards.
  • Remain consistent: Mood boards will help you stay on track during the design process and remain consistent with your design ideas and colour schemes.
  • Communicate ideas: A mood board is a valuable tool to communicate your ideas to other team members, stakeholders, or people interested in the project.

Advantages of a Mood Board

Here are some advantages of using a mood board to convey your ideas:

  • Defines the direction of the project. This is done through the use of images, colour palettes, descriptions and patterns.
  • Ensures everyone remains on the same page. When graphic designers work with an existing brand, they make use of mood boards to ensure the entire team knows what is happening. This avoids any future misunderstandings.
  • Visualise the end result. For larger projects, you can create a few mood boards with different feels to find the visual landscape that suits the project the best.
  • Helps you if you have run out of ideas. Mood boards serve to inspire and will clear up any artist block you may experience.
  • You can embrace your own style. Whether you use your own photos or pull images from the internet, creating a mood board for a design project will help you to express your creativity freely and find your own unique design style.
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Creating Mood Boards

When it comes to mood boards, there are no right or wrong ways to go about creating one. Whether physical or digital, mood boards are easy to create and maintain.

Here are some applications and online tools that can be used to create digital mood boards:

  • Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Spark
  • Pinterest
  • Canva
  • Moodboard
  • Milanote
  • InVision
  • Google Slides
  • PowerPoint

10 Steps for Creating a Mood Board

1) Decide on the direction of the project

Before starting your mood board, you must decide on the direction you want to work towards in terms of style. Will your mood board be physical or digital, practical or explorative (or a mix)?

Once you have decided on a direction, name your mood board and write down some vague ideas to start the inspirational juices flowing.

2) Collect material for your board

Now that you have the direction and name for the board, it is time to start collecting material. Start with any written text, like brand qualities, tag lines or mission and vision statements.

Next, start with the visual elements. Include logos and photographs related to the project.

3) Add images that inspire

The imagery you choose should inspire you. These images should take into consideration the tone and colour palette of your project’s design. Use keywords to find visual elements from online sources.

Photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

4) If you are using a digital board, include movement and sound

You can embed animations and sound bites into a digital mood board that will enhance the feel of your board and shows how movement or sound will contribute to your project.

5) Add colours and fonts

Colours will influence the overall style of the final product. Find colours that will compliment your creative or business project. You can use colours from the image you included in the board to compose a cohesive palette.

Descriptive words are also great to include in a mood board. Select complimentary fonts when using text to enhance the feel of your board. You can use typography galleries to find your preferred fonts.

6) Organise your board

Once you have all the images, short descriptions and colours, you have to arrange your board so it makes sense to you and anyone who sees it. Organising your board will be time-consuming, but it won’t be wasted time.

Start with the key design elements and change the size or position of other elements on the board to highlight their importance.

7) Keep an open mind

Even if you think you know exactly what you want, it is important to keep an open mind and always look out for inspiration to find that perfect composition for your board. You never know what will inspire you.

8) Explain and communicate your thought process

If you are planning on sharing your mood board with others, make sure you are able to explain your thinking behind everything you have included in the board. Keep track of all your steps using simple written notes. You can then use these notes to explain why you included what you did and the inspiration behind it.

9) Be open to collaboration

If the project involves other people, make sure you are willing to collaborate with others in the team to reach the final result. Digital mood boards can easily be shared, and other people can collaborate online using the same page.

Photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

10) Consult others for feedback

When you think your beautiful mood board is completed, ask others what their thoughts are. Ask about the colours, themes, tone of the board, and images you have included. Make sure you are open to their feedback and willing to make the required changes if the input is valid.

Everyone has their own opinion; of course, you may not always agree with the feedback you receive. That is fine too; just be willing to hear them out and understand where they are coming from.

Final Thoughts

Inspirational boards are amazing tools. Whether you are an expert interior designer or someone at home putting together a DIY design project, having a visual representation of your ideas is the best way to stay on track and remain productive.

Starting a mood board is incredibly easy; you just need an idea and a direction you are working towards. There are also plenty of online resources to help you create your board and to consistently inspire you throughout the process.

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