Visually representing inspiration through a mood board is the most effective way to convey your design ideas. It becomes even more critical when working with a team of creatives in which everyone has their hands in the design process. Sometimes even your client doesn’t have a specific visual direction in mind. Creating a mood board can quickly get everyone on the same page and facilitate a smoother, more collaborative approach to any design project.
It’s always a good idea to start with some verbal brainstorming. Asking questions about the message and overall feeling you want to communicate helps you understand what words and phrases to reference in your search for imagery. How do you want the viewer to feel? What values do you want to convey to the audience? Jot down all the words you think of, and then look up their synonyms. Creating a word cloud can help determine what terms represent your ideas best.
Color plays a prominent role in the perception of a brand. Choosing the right colors to express and provoke a desired feeling visually is very important. The right colors will relay the message you’re trying to send within the first few seconds of someone viewing your work. Color psychology and color theory should be referenced in this process. Playaround with saturation and luminance while developing your color palette. There are so many possibilities in the realm of color!
Infographic by GraphicSprings
When choosing images for your mood board, make sure that each one contributes something to the overall message. If you’re on the fence about an image, scrap it and look for a stronger, more relevant photo. The process of gathering images is up to the creative, but popular sites like Pinterest, Designspiration, and WeHeartIt are all great places to start. Search the words and phrases you brainstormed, trying different combinations and tenses. It’s essential to store all the relevant images you find, just in case you need to change something later or perhaps just need more inspiration. Both Google Drive and Pinterest allow for collaboration and sharing among the entire team.
How you organize your images is essential in emphasizing the tone of your mood board. Structured, evenly spaced photos create a minimal, orderly aesthetic. In contrast, a collage of stacked photos in various shapes and sizes can have a more whimsical, creative look. Be conscious of the images you put next to one another. Make sure no part of the board is too overwhelming. Your layout should align with the overall visual message you’re trying to send.
Programs like Canva, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop make creating mood boards easy and fun, but you can also make a physical one by printing your images and collecting materials elsewhere. Just don’t forget to include your color palette!
As mentioned before, sometimes the project you’re working on doesn’t have a defined aesthetic yet, or you may have been given a description that is contradictory or too vague. In this case, try creating a few mood boards. Change the colors, focus on a specific subset of buzzwords, try different layouts, etc. This can help in narrowing down exactly what the project should look like. Be open to combining different aspects of the boards or changing them completely based on feedback.
As you move through the design process, use your mood board for inspiration and justification in your creative decisions. Keep a copy of it within view at all times so that you are continuously pulling inspiration from the source. If the board begins to feel stale, create supporting boards with more images and design ideas.
Remember, the most important thing is to keep it creative! Mood boards should facilitate the design process, not restrict it. Good luck and happy creating!