Tuesday, 18 November 2014 16:00

What is a Mood Board and why you should be using one

Maybe you’ve heard of a mood board. Maybe you haven’t.

It´s a fun tool used to gather artistic inspiration comes to mind when you are on the right track. If you picture some sort of hybrid weegie board, you might be a little further from the mark…

Whatever your impression of a mood board might be, it is something you should get to know and love. Making one can be quite fun all in its own, and designing/building/creating anything in a team without one can lead your projects down a serious path of misdirection.

A mood board is an assortment of images, textures, colors, and fonts all arranged together and used to define the overall style or ‘mood’ of your project.

Why You Need One

If you create things for a living then I’m sure you already use cool stuff you’ve seen as an inspiration. A mood board is simply a more polished, cohesive collection of those cool things.

They are used all across the board (maybe pun intended). Creatives working in design, branding, photography, fashion, film, interior decorating and even wedding planning all use mood boards.

Be aware though, mood boards serve a broader purpose than pure inspiration.

If your work is for a client, then assembling a mood board together is how you let him or she get involved in the design process without them sticking a nose in trying to play art director.

It is how you guarantee that you are all on the ‘same page’ with the direction of the project.

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you present a beautifully-designed piece of work only to have it unapologetically rejected because it didn’t have the right ‘feel’. Agreeing ahead of time on the elements in the mood board and having your client contribute images they like is how you all are in agreement of what that ‘feel’ should be.

How To Make One

There really isn’t a definitive structure for making a ‘correct’ mood board.

Usually, the elements are arranged in some sort of fashion collage. Whether they are strictly aligned to a grid or more loosely placed is dependent on your own style. 

They are, however, normally confined to a single page. That page can be as big as you please. It is just best to make sure everything is taken in all at once. The idea is not to focus on an individual element but for the whole piece to speak as a sum of its parts.

In terms of actually assembling the thing, you have a few options as well.

If you are a glutton for nostalgia, print off images you’ve taken or have found online. Combine those with cutouts from magazines, newspapers and whatever else you want to tack onto a physical board.

You can also download images and paste them together in a word or powerpoint document. When you are done, print it out or save it as a PDF to reference back to and share with others.

There are, I must say, some awesome web tools that make assembling a mood board arguably better online.

I will assume you have at least heard of Pinterest. This is a very common (and free!) tool many creatives use to build their mood boards. I won’t bore you with the details of how to use Pinterest, just scroll through the images and pin all the ones you want to use.

You can also use a web application dedicated purely to making mood boards.

A cool one I recently discovered called Niice works a bit like a search engine that combs through only design and art sites. Simply type in keywords and relevant images and graphics pop up. There’s an extension you can install onto your web browser (if you use Google Chrome) that lets you add any image you see anywhere online to your mood board.

Gomoodboard.com is another great tool similar to Niice. Developed by the geniuses over at Crew (who also gave us unsplash.com!), you can build mood boards from scratch or start from pre-arranged boards sorted by different style.

Online options are especially convenient because multiple people can add to and edit them, and they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

The drawback from using digital software is your mood board is confined to the structure of the program. You don’t have the free-range flexibility in arranging the items you are granted when making a physical board.

Final notes

If you are starting to think you have a lot of artistic freedom when making your mood board, then you’re right! They in themselves are a piece of art.

What’s important to focus on is not the actual assembly of the board, but how it is used in your workflow.

There are a few final pointers I do want you to keep in mind to get the most out of your mood board.

Whether you choose to arrange yours by hand or in a program, try and maintain at least some consistency across the board (there, I said it again!). You don’t want to be distracted from the message just because your eye keeps falling on blank spaces or funny borders between or around your items.

Also, remember who will be looking at/using the mood board. Your client may not see the same things you or your fellow designers see in it. Make sure it is obvious what ‘mood’ is being set.

Have Fun

Although this is an important step in your workflow, making mood boards is really a lot of fun. After all, you are simply collected a ton of pictures and images you find interesting. If you work in design, fashion or some other creative industry, I’m sure you run into interesting stuff on a daily basis.

You never know what will inspire your next creative project, so always be on the lookout for things you might be able to put in a mood board.

For examples of designs created through the inspiration of mood boards, check out the work being made here at Bloominari. We have a team of experienced designers that love helping clients meet their design needs (and assemble a mood board of their own!).

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Erik Rosner

Content Strategist

Erik brings a unique talent for writing to our team, using his creative skills in creating and curating content to encourage user engagement in our client's brands and ours. 

Find me on: Team Page | LinkedIn | Google+


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