How to Make a Moodboard

Mood boards can be the difference between a successful creative project and a dud. They’re that helpful.

Creating mood boards doesn’t need to be difficult either. It’s all about finding design elements you like, and then putting them on a board for you to look at.

How To Make A Moodboard - Moodboard on wall

But with so many ways of doing it, it can be hard knowing exactly how to do it successfully, so you feel inspired and focus on the theme you want for your project.

So today, we’ll show you exactly how to create a mood board to get those creative juices flowing.

What Exactly is a Mood Board?

Mood boards are basically an inspiration board. Whatever your creative project might be, you fill your mood board (which can be a physical board or a digital mood board if you prefer) with a bunch of different things, including:

  • Different design elements
  • Own photos of things you like
  • The color palette you may like or the color schemes you want to implement
  • Fabric swatches and color swatches
  • Vintage illustrations
  • Descriptive words
  • And the list goes on…

How Does a Mood Board Help?

A mood board helps at the start of a project because it allows you to keep your eyes open for new ideas.

Having the imagery in front of you of the collection of things you like can be a great source of inspiration moving forwards.

A beautiful moodboard is visually appealing and will help you hone your design skills to create a consistent look once you eventually finish the project.

Basically, every design project needs a roadmap, and a mood board is yours, filled with all your creative ideas and visual inspiration to get the ball rolling!

Who Uses Mood Boards?

That’s the best thing about an inspiration board – anyone can use it. Although admittedly, certain individuals will use it more:

  • New businesses or those relaunching an existing brand looking for the right direction to show off their brand qualities
  • Creative professionals (especially if part of a team to ensure everyone is on the same page)
  • People working in interior design
  • Designers (of all types)
  • And, of course, you, if you’re about to embark on a creative project and need a little guidance through the process to organise your concepts and ideas to convey a clear message and focus in your work

First Things First: Choosing Your Mood Board Format

You’ve got two options: a digital mood board or a physical board. Which one you prefer will depend on two things.

First, how do you prefer to work? With physical things in front of you that you can move, or with a computer that you can edit freely as you please?

Second, which are you going to use more? This is the most important thing to consider. There’s no use getting more material together for the project if you aren’t going to put it on your mood board and update it constantly. So choose the mood board you’ll use the most.

Digital Board Explained

A digital moodboard is exactly what it sounds like. They’re used on your computer or other device and you basically put all your images and ideas in one place there, which you can update whenever you like.

Digital moodboards are popular because it allows you to use multiple moodboards at the same time so you can break down the project more.

This can often save time if you’re somebody who likes to store your ideas and images in separate places, rather than seeing the project as a whole on one board.

It also allows you to explore different visual directions more, as you might put similar ideas on both boards, but with different color palettes, etc.

With a digital board, you can play around with photos, images, words, fonts and style more – but you won’t be able to explore textures and materials like you can with a physical mood board.

Where to Create a Digital Mood Board

Creating a digital mood board is easy enough. You just need to know where to look for a free moodboard template online that will help you get all your images and ideas in one place.

Here are the best places to create a free digital mood board online:

  • Milanote
  • Canva
  • Pinterest

Explore these three options, and you’ll find one that suits your style and process more to create the mood boards you need.

Physical Board Explained

A physical board is a mood board you have in front of you. Usually, you stick your ideas on to a piece of foam board, after cutting out images and gathering different materials, paint (for your color palette), textures, fonts, and words to put them all on the board in front of you.

Here you can experiment with different styles to convey different messages and it’s a much more fluid process since you can remove and add things as you see fit.

Being able to see all the different design elements in front of you can be really helpful when figuring out the direction you want to take with your project.

And, if we’re being honest, there’s something quite satisfying about ripping down different photos and images that aren’t working and replacing them until you find the right style.

Why are Physical Mood Boards Becoming More Popular?

Slowly, we’re starting to see a return to physical mood boards more and more – despite the free digital options that are available. But why is that?

Well, lots of people find having their imagery in front of them to be much more helpful, just from a project management perspective, since it’s always there whilst you work reminding you of the direction.

Others find working with materials and textures to be an integral part of their design process, and you can only really experiment with materials on physical boards.

But one of the most important has to be that designers are creating physical mood boards all the time, filled with beautiful images and inspiration, expressing unique style, and exploring different elements of design to create a unique theme.

And if it works for designers, then it ought to work for us, right?

Sometimes Digital Boards are Better…

Despite that, we just wanted to remind you that sometimes digital moodboards will work better for you and that’s OK. Whatever suits your style of working is important.

And sometimes you’ll simply have to use digital moodboards because you don’t have everything you need for a physical mood board in front of you. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and online is often a great place to search for that!

So, decide which is better for you first, and then move on to our step-by-step guide below!

Creating Mood Boards: A Step-By-Step Guide

1. Knowing Your Theme

Getting your theme nailed down is the first thing to drive your inspiration onwards. And to do this, you don’t even need a mood board yet.

Whatever your project might be – designing a website, planning a wedding, interior design – look for sources of inspiration.

Pick out the running theme you like about all of them, and decide on the theme that’s going to work best for this venture.

You can do this by looking at others’ style, exploring images online, or even looking at another person’s mood board online in places like Pinterest.

This initial stage is just about gathering info and setting a direction – only in the next step does the mood board creating begin!

2. Time to Hunter-Gather

At this point, it’s time to put all your energy into finding everything you need to make your creative endeavour work.

This is where your ability to see the bigger picture and create something truly special will kick in.

For example, if you’re building a website for your brand, then here is where you’ll look for image after image online to find different elements that show off your brand.

The same applies to those of you just thinking about redecorating at home. Finding a brand voice to sell your brand on a website is a lot like finding your style to sell your personality at home. But to know your style, you’ll need images, photos, paints, materials, etc., to explore.

How To Make A Moodboard - Physical Mood board
Photo Credit – Adobe Stock

The point is, this part of the process lives and dies by your ability to find the images and sources of inspiration that will drive the rest of your tasks forwards. Here is where you’ll start tacking your ideas to your mood board and exploring what you like and what you don’t.

Find an image that doesn’t speak to your brand/image/style, then don’t waste energy on it. Just remove it, and find something to replace it!

3. CONTROL YOUR IDEAS

This is so important! After working so hard on making the mood board to start with, it can be tempting to throw the kitchen sink at it.

But if you overload your mood board with images of a bunch of different styles, it’ll be your downfall.

That’s why we focussed on finding a theme at the start – you should always keep this in mind because it’ll keep you on the right track.

Once you’ve completed your mood board, ask yourself if everything on it is relevant to your initial ideas. If it isn’t, then it’s time to cut them out.

All the images should make sense on your board, and if they don’t, it’s a sure sign you’ve lost direction along the way, and you might want to head back to square one and try again.

But don’t worry if this happens to you! It just means you get to go through the fun, creative process all over again!

4. Finalise Your Ideas

Once you think you’re there, it’s time to finalise your ideas. And to do that, you just have to ask yourself one key question: Does this mood board convey my brand/style/image in the way I wanted it to?

If yes, then just neaten up your mood board and get ready to start your project. But if no, then continue experimenting a little more – you’ll nail the brand/style/image etc. eventually, you just need to keep at it.

Top Tips for Mood Board Creation

There are some additional tips you might benefit from, so before we leave you, we thought we’d give you some last-minute pointers below.

Collaboration Helps

Working with others helps in creativity, so if you’re ever feeling like you’re lost for ideas or stuck for inspiration, then seek some guidance from others.

It doesn’t have to be someone who knows a lot about design or website building or whatever it is you’re doing – any outside help can be valuable.

Keep Notes on Your Thoughts

Alongside your mood board, make sure you keep some notes about your thoughts. Without them, you can sometimes risk returning to your mood board later on and being confused by what your thinking was at the time.

How To Make A Moodboard - Notes
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels

With notes, you’ll avoid this.

If You’re Unsure, Create More

If you’re not entirely satisfied when you finish the mood board, then don’t take it as a sign to quit – just make another one from scratch.

Nine times out of ten you’ll have just got sidetracked in your hunter-gather stage, and by starting again, you’ll get back on track.

Don’t get Trapped in the Mood Board Loop

There can sometimes be a problem with mood boards, and it’s what we call the mood board loop. Where you spend so much time editing your mood board that you never actually move on to the thing you created the mood board for…

Avoid this by setting a firm schedule. No more editing after this time, or you might never finish the task you originally set out to do.

NEVER Limit Your Creativity

Finally, never limit your creativity. The mood board phase is the perfect time to get whacky and creative and try things you’d never have thought of before.

If it doesn’t work, fine, but if it does – well, you’ve found yourself a unique way of looking at things again, and that’s always exciting.

Round-up

That’s the basic premise of making mood boards. You pick your method, you pick a theme; you find what you like, control your ideas, and then finalise, neaten up, and then use the final mood board to drive your tasks onwards.

It’s as simple as that, so all that’s left for us to say is get out there and create one. You’ll definitely find them useful, so long as you avoid that moodboard loop we talked about!

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