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What is a mood board and why do designers use it

19 November 2021, Friday By M. Konwar
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Almost anything can be a tool in the hands of a competent designer. Examination is important when working with any visual content, just as much as it is important to correctly draw up technical specifications. And if you combine them, you get a mood board.

It is he who helps to avoid disagreements between the designer and the customer and forms the visual appearance of the future product. And it also allows you not to deviate from the original idea.

On this page

What is a mood board?

Basic rules for creating a mood board

Where to find the source code?

What should not be on the mood board

Where can you create a mood board? Top 5 programs

How to work with image editors

Examples of successful mood boards

Summary

What is a mood board?

Mood board (sometimes also called inspiration boards) is a kind of preview of the future design. It helps to present and agree with the client the visual components of your project.

mood board

It personifies the result that the customer wants to get, and can consist of several different elements:

  • color schemes;
  • fonts and outlines;
  • slogans;
  • patterns;
  • illustrations;
  • photos.

All of the above graphic materials indicate the mood and spirit of the project and are placed in the form of a collage. You can do it in a photo editor or one of the programs designed for this.

In general, you need to include all the graphic materials that will clearly make it clear what the spirit and mood of the project will be. All elements are collected in the form of a collage on one board.

What is it used for?

The moodboard is used in design as an alternative to the text or serves as its complement. The customer gets the opportunity to clearly demonstrate their preferences and wishes by making adjustments to it. If the customer knows at least a little how to work with graphic editors, then he can prepare the image himself and come to the designer with it.

mood board

The latter, in turn, gets rid of the "creative stupor" and immediately proceeds to create a project. It also reduces the chance that the client will reject the specialist's ideas at the last moment, and all the work will have to be redone from scratch.

Taking a look at the mood board, it immediately becomes clear what typography and color palette will be used.

Such collages can be made not only when creating design projects - they can be requested by photographers and event organizers. In the case of filming, a specialist can immediately determine what kind of lighting and location he needs. The process of organizing the celebration will also speed up when the organizer understands in what colors to buy decor and what entertainment program to come up with.

Why should you start your project with a mood board?

Of course, the use of mood boards is a personal matter, and you can always refuse them.

project with a mood board

If you consider working on it superfluous, then just think: it sometimes takes much more time to try out several variations of corporate identity, corporate design or room decoration than compiling several images into one.

Creating a collage with options for designs, colors and textures:

  • You save your ideas. To create future projects, you can use old moodboards that were not useful. They will remain on your PC and come in handy when the opportunity arises. No idea gets lost.
  • The dialogue with the customer is simplified. Accumulating your own ideas in a single collage means giving the most accurate description of the project. Even a “bundle” of references or accurate verbal descriptions in all details do not provide such a clear and specific focus on an idea.
  • Edits can be made at an early stage. Often performers hear from customers “I don’t know what I want, but do it so that I like it”. Misunderstandings during revisions and reconciliation can be avoided - just prepare visual cues. Even a person who is far from graphic art can easily understand them, give their comments and remarks.
  • A clear idea of ​​the final project is being formed. This is necessary in order to move in the chosen direction and not deviate from the path. If not one person is working on a project, but a full-fledged team, and its members offer interesting ideas, many of the ideas will turn out to be incompatible with each other. The concept will start to change constantly, and without a mood board you can go completely “to another steppe”.
  • The future project is taking on its foundation. This is the most important and basic purpose of creating a mood board - you no longer have to wait for inspiration. Just collect all the available assumptions "in a heap" and start working with them, gradually filtering out unnecessary ones.

Again, having a mood board is good, but not every mood board is good. Aimless collection of images on the Internet that are not linked by a common style, focus or mood will not do any good.

Basic rules for creating a mood board

Let's move on to working with "beautiful pictures" from the Internet, which you just want to cram into a future project. There are only two main rules.

Create-2D-Concept-Boards

First, the resulting collection of references must be complete. Some images may remain incomprehensible to the client, so we try to use simpler symbols that evoke stable associations and overlap with each other.

Secondly, the search should start “from the idea”. There is no point in preparing a pink collage with princesses for the site of the martial arts section. Specific visual elements always match a specific project: they are exactly what we need to find.

Let's not rush: let's start by analyzing the "details" of which our mood board will consist.

Color palettes

Shades, colors and gradations have a bright emotional connotation. Therefore, we choose those that convey the desired sensations and are associated with the project.

To do this, you can use the palette generators (freely available on the Internet) or independently take the colors from any image (for this, the eyedropper tool in Photoshop is suitable). To create a unique palette, just open a picture with a suitable color scheme for us, pleasing to the eye, and take 3-6 shades from it.

Color palettes

We will place the colors we like in the form of small blocks. Now it has become much clearer whether they have something in common. Listen to the sensations: if several shades "knock out", try replacing them with warmer or colder ones.

Illustrations and photos

How to convey the aesthetics and mood of the project? That's right - to display it in the selection of illustrations and photographs that most closely match it. References must be relevant and up-to-date. Often, photographs of nature, people and their interaction with each other, plants, and interior items are used to compose mood boards. You can look for hand-drawn illustrations if you can't find a suitable photo or “something is missing”.

Illustrations and photos

Even if the selected image has a photo stock logo, it’s not scary, because the mood board is a “draft”, and a small translucent inscription will not affect the perception of the image in any way.

Textures and patterns

Images in a mood board for designers can be conveyed not only through illustrations, but also through background textures . Vegetable landscapes, embossed surfaces, fabrics, marble or wood will serve as inspiration for creating photo content, choosing a style or palette.

You can't do without textures when you create a product design.

Textures and patterns

As for the patterns, they can also be successfully used when developing a corporate identity, future renovations in an apartment, or preparing for a photo shoot. Patterns are especially important in corporate design, as they increase brand awareness and are used on letterheads, bags, packaging and other products.

The pattern itself or some of its elements can complement or partially repeat the logo, cause direct associations with the product, or simply convey its "character".

Fonts: logos and quotes

You can build on the logo in further work: choosing visual images for its color and shape, gradually "increase" the number of images on the mood board. A collage can also come in handy if a company is planning a redesign and needs fresh ideas for a logo.

Fonts: logos and quotes

By adding text to images, you "reinforce" them. The more in tune with the image of your chosen quotes and slogans, the better. Almost all firms have their own corporate "motto" - try to apply it, successfully combining it with relevant references.

The slogan sounds like "Our vigilance is your peace of mind"? Then place images on the template that evoke a sense of peace and safety.

Moodboards for events: features

Let's talk about a separate category of "boards": these are collages that reflect the atmosphere of an event, such as a wedding ceremony. You have to work on them if you plan to entrust the celebration to any company (or you yourself are organizing events).

Moodboards for events

The rules are simple:

  1. "Step up" depending on the time of year and the features of the site. Of course, the unusual decor of the hall in pastel colors can give a spring, warm mood in January, but it will be problematic for a street celebration. As well as to arrange a techno party in an expensive Italian restaurant. Analyze your own capabilities, the conditions of the site and only after that make plans.
  2. The perception of the general atmosphere is strongly influenced by lighting. Do not select pictures that do not correspond to the time of day during the event itself. Of course, noir shadows and dark atmosphere are mesmerizing, but not when the celebration takes place at two o'clock in the afternoon in a panoramic restaurant with south-facing windows.
  3. Each decor element is one piece. Several options for a wedding veil, glasses or bouquets will introduce the client (or yourself) into a little panic and force them to make a choice. And that can be a daunting task, especially in the busy holiday season.

These tips can be used when planning a corporate party, presentation or master class. If you are the owner or employee of a large company, strictly monitoring the observance of the corporate style, you will have to adhere to it during informal events with clients or partners.

Where to find the source code?

There are enough good references - they surround you in everyday life, and are also stored on photo stocks and on social networks.

Moodboards

To search for images and textures for narrowly targeted queries, it is better to use full-fledged photo stocks. They:

  • have wide, flexible settings (selection by tags, size, color...);
  • often offer high-quality and free images on specific topics;
  • can find similar pictures automatically.

If the project is simple enough, you can turn to simpler tools like Pinterest. The site contains thematic selections suitable for a visual brief. Thematic collections can be grouped by color, mood, style or theme.

What should not be on the mood board

mood board

All unsuccessful examples of collages are similar to each other. To prevent your work from falling into their category, the mood board should not contain:

  • "Well-worn" pictures. Include your creativity: even simple and understandable images should not be stereotyped and obvious. Taking a photo from the first page of a search engine is not a good idea.
  • Images suggesting non-obvious associations. Choose those pictures that will be understandable to most people and personify the project itself.
  • Details that don't fit together. We approach the choice of colors and style of elements especially carefully: this way you will get a harmonious and holistic result.
  • Oversaturation with text. That is why the format is visual - it should not contain long phrases or unnecessary slogans. Of course, you can add some notes or explanations.

These factors interfere with the full perception of the entire image, so the resulting group of pictures will look awkward. Any composition should have a logical center and be balanced: then its message will become clear.

Where can you create a mood board? Top 5 programs

Before making a mood board, you need to choose a program to create it. You can, of course, confine yourself to standard Paint, but the possibilities in it are curtailed (it's banal - you can't edit layers, they are absent there as a phenomenon).

create a mood board

If you haven't decided to buy Photoshop yet, use one of the offered services:

  1. Moodboard. There are already ready-made collage templates, and the result of your work can be shared even without saving. Choose an empty sheet or a ready-made layout and start editing: you do not need to buy a subscription, the site is absolutely free.
  2. Sampleboard. Will cost you $12 per month. There are import functions for presentations and documents; a ready-made mood board can also be shared on social networks. The choice of elements is unlimited, it is very convenient to add color schemes and the images themselves (from any convenient source).
  3. Miro. The subscription is a little cheaper, for using the additional functions of the service you will have to pay $8 per month. These include the ability to conduct remote demos and video calls. Other features include support for teamwork on a project (no more than three people) and editing up to three boards at the same time. If you want more, you will have to pay extra. But the board itself is very convenient, it has a nice interface and many interesting features, each of which is useful in its own way.
  4. Niice. A more expensive option that costs $83. This is a monthly payment, which further exacerbates the situation. However, there is also a free version - but you cannot hide the collage from other users in it (all works will remain public), save images in a convenient format and upload your illustrations. But Niice has an extensive gallery of its own photos, you can use them without restrictions.
  5. DesignFiles. Cheaper than the previous option, the monthly payment is kept at a stable $35. More suitable for interior design and interior design work. You can create your dream apartment in both 2D and 3D, and then share it on social networks or save it in PDF format.

The listed services were created specifically for assembling mood boards, so it will be easier to work in them than in other photo editors (especially for people without experience with the latter). The authors of the software have already collected all the necessary tools, it remains only to use them correctly.

You can also refer to the galleries of other users' work to get some inspiration or interesting "tricks". The only caveat is that some of them are practically useless in the absence of a subscription, and the monthly payment is unreasonably high.

How to work with image editors

So, you have set a specific task: a "mood board" is created for a specific brand (product, site, event, project ...). Now:

  1. Take a look at the designs of competitors and judge it sensibly. What techniques do you like? Maybe you want to remove some elements or colors? Scroll through the portfolio of designers who step through their orders to track the sequence of work. The more information you study and analyze, the higher the quality of the finished material will be.
  2. Decide what you will focus on. What qualities do you want to highlight? Maybe just to showcase his aesthetics and mood? What shapes and palettes do you associate with the project?
  3. After collecting several suitable images, choose a dominant. This is the "center" of the entire composition, on which the semantic emphasis is made. Focusing on it, you can continue to select pictures by topic.
  4. Concretize controversial points with text. To do this, add small notes or comments. The main thing is that there are not many of them.
  5. Experiment and try new things. No need to get stuck on one created version, come up with 2-3 more versions. In any case, they will remain with you, and unused layouts can be used for another project.

Try to turn the creative process into a little fun and approach it in a good mood. This will start to enjoy the process itself. Relax and you can catch the right "wave".

Examples of successful mood boards

If you still don't fully understand how to select images and how to arrange them, just take a look at some good examples of mood boards.

successful mood boards

Let's start with a “mood board” for professional photography. What do we see? The client selected several poses, clothing options and backgrounds, and then combined them into one collage and added notes. Of course, long text is not always suitable for mood boards, but here its use is justified. Having looked at the proposed pictures, the photographer will instantly understand how best to fulfill the order.

Examples of successful mood boards

Designing the interior of an apartment or house is a delicate matter. To avoid a big run-up in colors and styles of rooms, you can define the general "mood" and display it in the collage. Below is an example of creating a mood board for a bedroom. It clearly shows the colors that will be used in textiles and interiors, textures (in this case, dark wood) and general style.

corporate style

When forming the company's identity, a brand book is created - it has many similarities with a mood board and resembles a complicated version of the latter. Brand books display the corporate style: what colors, styles, shapes and patterns will be used for products or design of outlets.

Below is an illustrative example, which clearly shows features similar to moodboards. Do not forget about the main difference: brand books contain more information and are created from scratch, mood boards have a "stripped down" format and are an assembly of publicly available images. However, the mood board of some online store can be in this form.

illustrative example

Please note: all three images look like a single composition, nothing "knocks out" in them, does not climb into the foreground and does not interrupt other elements.

Summary

Moodboard

Summing up, let's once again define the qualities inherent in a thoughtful mood board:

  • visibility and clarity;
  • balance of colors and shades;
  • general stylistic solution;
  • accurate representation of the idea;
  • absence of non-obvious or complex associations.

Even if you don't have enough ideas for a collage, then it's time to go in search of them. You can flip through a magazine or watch a movie, picking up a few ideas from them. Take a walk with the camera and take some pictures. Or refer to sites for artists, photographers and designers - see other people's work, explore the available palettes and patterns, consult with colleagues.

Photo stocks will help you find ideas: this is the most suitable option. Choose the category of interest, the color scheme and consider the thousands of proposed images: a couple of them will definitely push you on the right thoughts. Even Instagram accounts or Pinterest feed can inspire you to make your time on social media profitable.

The final design does not have to be an exact copy of the mood board, but it does have to take on the characteristic lines, movements and shades from it. If your collage is painted with fire, do not try to cram its image into all corners of the site for which the design project is being created. You can leave orange-red colors, bends and reflections typical of a flame.

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