A Beginner’s Guide To Mood Boards

The Evolution of Mood Boards

Presentations and web design have evolved so much through the years, and a lot of exciting new visual elements are now taking shape. Take the case of the mood board, which is essentially a lovechild of a collage and a storyboard. A typical mood board initially appears like a mishmash of images similar to a collage, but it takes the art a notch higher by telling a story or sending a message. Imagine a tangible and manually handcrafted scrapbook come to life – that’s what a well-crafted a mood board looks like!

Of course, a mood board is much more than a mere visual medium. If this is your first time to hear about this new design tool, let this guide to mood boards help you gear up for your next design project.

Use mood boards to plan your next design project.

Use mood boards to plan your next design project. (source)

Why the love for mood boards?

All designers naturally want to have their voices represented through their outputs, and mood boards can definitely bring that to life.  As its name implies, a mood board captures the energy and expression of the person making it, most often to achieve a particular purpose. Mood boards contain a lot of visual elements – text, images, illustrations – that come together to tell a story. The flexible style of the mood board is part of what is making it so popular.

Earlier mood boards were called inspirational boards due to their purpose of cultivating ideas for a particular design project. In one go, members of the design team can just look at the mood board to get inspired for ideas. This same purpose of effectively conveying a message in a single panel has inspired marketers, business owners and graphic designers to use mood boards in making discussions a whole lot easier.

Let your mood board capture a single message and express it in a single go

Let your mood board capture a single message and express it in a single go. (source)

Where are mood boards used?

Think of any situation where you need to say something, say talking to a friend or doing a sales pitch. Mood boards can work in all of those scenarios! Anywhere you need to have your voice heard, a mood board can deliver just that.

Mood boards have become highly effective presentation tools, because it conveys even the most complex of stories into a single visual landscape. Over the years, graphic designers have been using mood boards as portfolio resumes. Photographers create mood boards to discuss wedding layouts to their clients. Advertisers opt to use mood boards in their marketing strategies to capture the attention of today’s generation.

Design companies have benefited so much from mood boards. Aside from its ability to inspire new ideas, mood boards make collaboration easier with team members and the clients. Designers don’t need to create an exact website only to be disapproved by the customer. A mood board can represent the feel of the website in mind, and the client can jump in to reject, approve, or append to the proposed design. As a result, the project has less wasted time.

Now that mood boards have jumped out of the confines of design companies and into popular mainstream, you can use mood boards on your own home design project. If you are planning to change up the style of your home, the mood board is a practical tool to collate all possible ideas that catch your fancy. If you see a color that you like or a piece of furniture online that you think will work well in your room, you may put all of these design elements in a single mood board. That way, you can simply look at the board later on and get a feel of what style you’re going for.

Styling up your home? Make use of mood boards to find the right flooring material.

Styling up your home? Make use of mood boards to find the right flooring material. (source)

How do I create a mood board?

Although you can make a mood board just like you would a scrapbook, you’ll probably not be able to share it through social media – unless, of course, you take a picture of the scrapbook page and upload it to Facebook, but that’s a crude way of doing it! The best and most efficient method of creating your own mood board is an image editing software (like Photoshop) or a collage creation tool (like Picasa or your favorite mobile collage app).

Creating your first mood board is pretty easy.  Here are some tutorials to help you get started:

Photoshop Basics: How To Make A Mood Board

How To Make A Mood Board In Photoshop

Create a Design Moodboard: Communicating Color and Texture in Adobe InDesign

Moodboard Tutorial from Inspired to Share

If you’re into the back-to-basics mood boards where you get to get your hands on scissors and glue, here are some tutorials that can help you create a physical mood board:

Mood Boards: The Complete Guide

How To Create A Mood Board

How To Make A Mood Board For Scrapbooking Inspiration

You can use your physical mood board as a wall decor!

You can use your physical mood board as a wall decor! (source)

Tips on creating a mood board

If this is your first time to make a mood board, these tips can help you get started. These recommendations are not absolute rules, so you can go ahead and pick which ones you would like to follow first.

1. Find inspiration from anywhere

Sure, you’re making a digital mood board, but it doesn’t mean that you should get ideas purely online. The world is your ultimate and free source of ideas, so go ahead and look outside the confines of your computer.

2. Take lots of pictures every time, everywhere

Every time you leave the house, bring a camera with you. It could be a point-and-shoot digital camera, a full-sized DSLR, or your mobile phone camera. Take snapshots of anything that catches your attention, because you’ll never know when you might use that precise visual moment in your future mood boards.

3. Choose a central image or theme, and build up from there

It’s easy to get lost in all of the possibilities for your mood board, so one way of avoiding this confusion is to decide on a particular theme. You may go for a specific color, a particular catchphrase, or a vivid image. Once you have that central figure down pat, succeeding elements that you add on the board should somehow follow that theme or image.

Of course, if you find that you want another kind of image or theme for your mood board, you can always change it.

4. Use words

Mood boards are not limited to images. Sometimes, the most powerful mood board expressions can come from a few words on the board. Make sure that your words are readable, and that they create an impact that enhances the flow of the board. Avoid using paragraphs and small fonts, because the detract from the visual nature of the mood board.

Let a few words inject some inspiration to your mood board.

Let a few words inject some inspiration to your mood board. (source)

5. Show your board to others, to get a feel of their reactions early on

Appreciating your own work is one thing, but someone else saying great things about your output can inspire you to do greater things in the future. As soon as you have your first draft of the mood board, show it to people who might be interested. Assess their reactions and feed from their response to enhance the board.

6. Express, not impress

Mood boards are supposed to convey a message, not to merely get positive feedback. Focusing on impressing your intended audience might lead you to lose touch of the message and use more of your time on visuals and design elements. A great mood board should be able to get a particular message across, but of course it wouldn’t hurt to impress the viewers with your impeccable design skills at the same time.

7. Go crazy!

Experiment. Don’t limit your ideas. Have fun! Mood boards are supposed to spark ideas from you and the team, so don’t restrict yourself to a certain idea. You may welcome all ideas at the start, and then later weed away less useful elements to come up with a more cohesive mood board.