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How and Why to Use a Mood Board

Discover the Types and Methods of Creating Mood Boards

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A mood board (also called an inspiration board) helps you and your client or you and your design team visualize the design concepts and ideas you've discussed prior to committing to specific colors, fonts, images, and layouts. Basically it is a collection of images organized in some fashion that help explore the desired overall look and feel of a project.

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Perhaps a mood board is worth a thousand questions? Do you use one? The mood board is a tool that can help you and your design client get a better understanding of what they want, what's needed, what can be done, what works and what doesn't before you spend hours, days, or weeks coming up with designs. After discussing a project with your client and before doing sketches or any preliminary designs, create a mood board and discuss it with your client. Through the words and illustrations from other designers discover how to create and use a mood board when working on desktop publishing or graphic design projects.

Why Mood Boards Matter

Screen snip From Web Designer Depot
Screen snip From Web Designer Depot
Writing for Web Designer Depot, Mindy Wagner offers up an explanation of how mood boards can help you when working with clients and how to go about creating them. Focused on Web design, the same principles apply to print design as well. You'll see examples of collage and template styles of mood boards with tips on when each style is most appropriate. As Mindy says, "Words fail miserably when trying to translate design concepts." That's why a mood board is so useful in making sure everyone is understanding each other. Read the article "Why Mood Boards Matter"

Gain Efficiency With Mood Boards

Screen snip from Aten Design Group
Screen snip from Aten Design Group
If you aren't using mood boards you might think of them as an extra step that just requires more of your time. Joel Steidl at Aten Design Group explains how using a mood board can actually help things move faster. About this design tool Joel says, "Mood boards are a low-risk way of finding out key information up-front, rather than spinning your wheels with the real design." Read "Gain Efficiency With Mood Boards"

Creating an Effective Mood Board

Screen snip of OBox Video at From the Couch
Screen snip of OBox Video at From the Couch
From the Couch has a nice video tutorial/explanation by David Perel of Obox on mood boards. While this isn't the only way to do it, having a visual and talk-through of one designer's method helps you see how and why to use a mood board. Notice how the inspiration designs include a brief statement indicating what is good about them (good use of white space, example of complementary colors, etc.). The designer, David Perel, also breaks down how long the different aspects of the mood board creation takes and how it can save you time. The video is just over 7 minutes.Watch the video "Creating an Effective Mood Board"

Mood Boards for Designers

Screen snip of vimeo video by Amy Lamp
Screen snip of vimeo video by Amy Lamp
At vimeo Amy Lamp of Forty presents a video/slide show that shows how and when to use mood boards. She describes the 5 steps her agency goes through in creating the actual collage or template style mood board. The mood boards themselves are fun and interesting to look at. At the end she also shows some examples of the mood board side-by-side with the Web site created from that mood board. About 7 minutes.Watch the video "Mood Boards for Designers"

Moodboarding Methods for Web Designers

Screen snip at Fuel Your Creativity
Screen snip at Fuel Your Creativity
At Fuel Your Creativity Ben Gribbin talks about both traditional and digital moodboards. He includes a download of an HTML template to use for a digital mood board. Ben writes, "Moodboarding is a quick, efficient and cheap way of furthering your design skills and keeping clients in the loop. Try using them on your next project for a heightened sense of creativity." Read "Moodboarding Methods for Web Designers"

Creating a Mood Board

Screen snip from Design Onslaught
Screen snip from Design Onslaught
This short bulleted posting at Design Onslaught succinctly describes the sources used for a mood board. "... the board should serve to quickly identify any miscommunication or misunderstanding before substantial time is wasted going down the wrong path."Read "Creating a Mood Board"

Elaborate Your Vision With Extended Mood Boards

Screen snip from Little Film School
Screen snip from Little Film School
Mood boards don't have to be boards. They can be multimedia mood boards. Although written from the perspective of mood boards (that aren't boards) for filmmaking, these ideas in this Little Film School posting can apply to design projects (such as Web pages) that may include more than just static visuals. "Adding objects or samples and viewing the “bigger picture” can lead to more or better ideas — it is a bit like brainstorming with oneself." Read "Elaborate Your Vision With Extended Mood Boards"

Creating a Mood Board With Evernote

Screen snip from Evernote blog
Screen snip from Evernote blog
Part of Evernote's Creative Series, this article by Julie Gomoll decribes and illustrates how to use Evernote (a organizational/productivity tool for computer, phone, mobile devices) to come up with a mood board. Julie writes, "For me, doing mood boards for big design/redesign projects isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. It’s part of doing the job right, a job made easier with the help of Evernote."Read all about "Creating a mood board with Evernote"

Moodboard App

Screen snip from A Tiny Tribe
Screen snip from A Tiny Tribe
aTinyTribe develops Apple apps including Moodboard from iPad. Available in LIte and Pro versions, it's a tool that helps you create digital mood boards by importing images and creating color palettes. "Share your boards with friends, clients, and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, or email." It's for iPad only.Learn about Moodboard at aTinyTribe

Getting Moody: A Look at Inspiration and Style in Early Design Techniques

Screen snip from Viget
Screen snip from Viget
A lot of fields use mood boards. Tom Osborne of Viget Labs categorizes mood boards as inspiration or style. He then offers up examples of the use of mood boards in fashion design, interior design, landscape design, wedding planning, and graphic design. Get inspired by these examples. In describing how mood boards are used Tom writes, "The most common outcome of a mood board is a color palette, but they also help in choosing textures, imagery and general inspiration. In graphic design, we use them to help establish typographic directions and hierarchy."Read the article "Getting Moody"

Image Spark - Create Mood Boards For Inspiration Or Group Collaboration

Screen snip from makeuseof.com
Screen snip from makeuseof.com

Karl L. Gechlik, writing at makeuseof.com, describes and illustrates how to use the Web site Image Spark to upload images to create a mood board. The images you upload can be marked private if you don't want others to see or use them. Karl says, "This is great in a meeting on a iPad or other touch screen computer. Users can move the images around creating timelines, banners, posters or whatever else they can imagine."

Read about Image Spark

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