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Screen snip of vimeo video by Amy Lamp

Using a mood board can help alleviate communication issues and help focus the design process in the right direction. Screen snip of vimeo video by Amy Lamp | Layout & Design Glossary | Alpha Index to Full Glossary:

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Definition:

Also called an inspiration board, a mood board is a device that helps a designer and client or a design team visualize design concepts and ideas prior to committing to specific colors, fonts, images, and layouts. Basically it is a collection of images and text samples organized in some fashion that help explore the desired overall look and feel or tone of a project.

A mood board is not be necessary for every type of design project but for major projects including Web sites, marketing campaigns, and in developing a corporate identity system they can be invaluable brainstorming and guidance tools. In addition to graphic designers and Web designers, mood boards are often utilized in interior design, painting, photography, fashion design and many other creative fields. Individuals may also use mood boards when planning a wedding, remodeling or redecorating a home, or even planning an elaborate birthday party.

Mood boards are for the benefit of the designer, design team, and the client to make sure that they are all understanding the desired direction of the project before making solid choices for the layout and picking exact colors and fonts or other elements of the design.

Mood boards are part of the design process but also serve as a brainstorming tool that can enhance or jumpstart creativity, much like mind mapping.

What the Mood Board is Made Out Of

The mood board can be a physical board such as a poster board or bulletin board of any size, a notebook with pages to flip through, or an electronic presentation such as a PDF file, PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation. There are some computer, smartphone, and tablet apps for creating mood boards that can be presented electronically or printed.

Contents of the Mood Board

A mood board could contain mini-mockups of a documents or simply a collection of color swatches, pictures snipped from magazines, stock photos, logos, videos, font samples, and paper samples from a variety of sources that evoke a certain mood or feeling (hence mood board) that is desired for the finished project — whether that is a brochure, a Web site, a billboard, or a complete print and multimedia advertising campaign. The elements of a mood board can come from anywhere. A piece of fabric may provide inspiration for the color palette of a Web site while the layout of a Web site suggests the layout of a brochure. An unusual bottle may be the inspiration for a logo. Each of these items (or photos of them) can be incorporated into the mood board.

A mood board may be a collage of images or may consist of a series of templates that each follow a regular pattern but with different elements (color palettes, fonts, textures, etc.) each aimed at a different or similar look and feel.

The Mood Board in the Design Process

Development of the mood board generally comes after discussing a project with a client but before doing thumbnail sketches or any preliminary designs. Some designers may incorporate thumbnail sketches into the mood board or keep the processes separate. By using a mood board it is possible to quickly determine if the designer or design team is moving in the right direction visually (and emotionally) before devoting considerable time to creating actual composites and first drafts.
How and Why to Use a Mood Board explores methods and reasoning (with examples) from the perspective of graphic designers and Web designers. Topics include the importance of mood boards and how they can help you, how to create mood boards, and both text and video tutorials.
Also Known As: inspiration board | storyboard | collage | sample board
Alternate Spellings: moodboard

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