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Even if you’re new to the world of design, you’ve probably heard the term mood board at least once, if not many times. Mood boards are important (and fun) visual elements that provide inspiration for design projects. They are used in every field of design, from fashion to interior design to branding, and more. Most mood boards contain 4 key elements: images, colors, typography, and texture.

As a brand and web designer, I always start new projects with a mood board. Sometimes it requires a few iterations, but once it’s perfectly aligned with my clients’ vision, it helps the rest of the design process flow smoothly.

The purpose of mood boards

As you’re getting started on a new design project, you may already have a ton of ideas floating around your head. But even if you think you know exactly what direction you’re going in, it’s still a good idea to conglomerate all your ideas and inspiration into a single mood board. Doing so will help you with the following:

  • Gain clarity on the project’s overall aesthetic
  • Easily communicate your vision to your teammates or clients
  • Determine which colors best represent your brand
  • Provide a starting off point for the creation of visual design elements (such as a logo or social media templates)

A mood board is more than just a cohesive collection of visual elements–it also establishes the mood and tone of a project. Is your brand bright, cheerful, and optimistic? Or is it serious and clean cut? These traits and emotions are evoked through the use of color and imagery in your mood board.

Soft pink mood board

How to create a mood board

I personally like to create my mood boards using Photoshop, however you can use any design tool that works for you. Depending on your field, you may prefer to create a physical mood board, rather than a digital one. This is often the case for fashion, event planning, and interior design, where projects have an essential tactile component.

Once you’ve decided between a physical or digital board, consider what kind of layout is most appropriate for your project. Will your mood board have clean, even borders or an overlapping collage effect? Will you use one type of shape or a mix of shapes? These details are totally up to you and your vision, and no answer is right or wrong.

Blue and beige mood board

Mood board elements

As I mentioned above, most mood boards contain the following elements: images, colors, typography, and texture. Depending on your project, however, you may find you only need one or two of these elements. For my branding projects, for instance, I don’t usually incorporate texture, unless the client specifically requests it.

If you’re not sure what colors to incorporate, start by curating images, and let them inspire your color palette. One of my favorite free online tools called Coolors lets you upload an image and extract its exact colors. You can also do this using the eyedropper tool in Photoshop. Alternatively, if you do have some colors in mind, try searching for those colors on image heavy search engines such as Pinterest to find inspirational images for your mood board.

Where to find inspiration

There are so many ways to find inspiration for your mood board that it can almost feel overwhelming. Below are some of my favorite ways to curate inspiration for mood boards:

  • Pinterest (duh!)
  • Free stock image sites, such as Unsplash and Pexels
  • Instagram
  • Go for a walk and take pictures of anything that catches your eye
  • Visit a crafts store, flea market, or other colorful venue

The latter two methods are obviously a bit more time consuming, but they present a fun excuse to get outside and explore a bit. Even just the fresh air and exercise can get your creative wheels turning.

Note: If you plan to use other people’s images for your mood boards, make sure to give them credit if you plan to publicize your mood board. Better yet, ask for permission first.

Are you in need of a fresh new logo, brand identity, and/or website? Contact me today and let’s chat about your project.

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