How to Make a Mood Board in 5 Easy Steps Plus Examples

Updated on September 11, 2023 · Published on
how to make a mood board in 5 easy steps

Mood boards are a superb example of how visual storytelling is shaping the next decade.

For a start, mood boards are extensively used by designers and those from the creative fields to communicate ideas with clients.

These beautifully presented collages of concepts and inspiration allow clients to understand a designer’s creative vision.

Have you been meaning to make a mood board but are unsure how and where to get started?

This step-by-step guide will cover the basic steps on how to make a mood board, plus great tips and examples from various industries to inspire you in your next design project.

What is a mood board?

A mood board typically includes a combination of images, texts, photographs, and textures to explore and present an idea in a way that words alone cannot.

mood board description for how to make a mood board

However, these design elements are not standalone features on a board. Instead, these components combine to tell a cohesive story about a vision. This story has to be clear or the purpose of the mood board is lost.

Mood boards are a creative project often used in client presentations but are equally important to tracking and feeding the designer’s vision and visual directions. 

Benefits of creating mood boards

Here’s why you should consider creating a mood board before presenting your next big idea.

1. Record and organize ideas

Starting a new project can be messy. No matter if it’s creating a website from scratch or drafting the blueprint for an interior design project, there are many details that’s easy to lose track of.

That’s where mood boards come in.

A mood board lets you collect and organize your ideas in one place. Seeing all your inspirations and thoughts together helps you build clear messaging around a central theme. As a result, this keeps you focused.

In addition, the flow of creativity is mostly unpredictable. Creatives are notorious for getting a hundred ideas a day on some days and then drawing a complete blank on others.

By recording your ideas as and when they appear, you avoid losing them. Recording all your ideas on a mood board also lets you see them all in the context of the focal theme.

For example, you’re building a mood board for a webinar promotion project. You may have included certain images and font references that you felt would complement your campaign design.

After seeing the visual references around the central theme, you may remove certain elements because they don’t fit well.

2. Flexibility of format

Mood boards come in either physical or digital formats. This allows you to choose how you want to access and share them.

Editing and adjusting photo and text samples are easier with a digital mood board. You can even include short branding video clips. Digital mood boards can be shared remotely, and this helps save time.

On the other hand, physical mood boards benefit from the element of ‘texture’ that digital can’t provide.

For example, if you’re an upholstery company sharing your mood board of office décor with a client. Having your clients feel a sample of the velvet curtain you want to use will be much more effective than explaining its texture.

You can choose either of these formats based on how you want to present and share your creative ideas.

What should I include in my mood board?

The short answer is anything! You can use multiple visual elements while designing your mood board.

Your brand and your industry will naturally guide your choices. Common elements to include in mood boards are:

1. Photographs

Free photo galleries like Unsplash let you download millions of stock photos that you can use for your mood board.  When you create your mood board using Piktochart, you can access over 3000+ high-quality photographs. Try Piktochart for free.

piktochart's photograph library to create your mood board on the same page
Piktochart’s photograph library for your mood board

2. Typography

It’s important to find the right type of font for your brand. This is particularly true if you’re presenting a design idea. Choose one or two sample fonts and include them in your mood board to see how it matches the rest of the style.

3. Words

While visual representation like brand colors is important, you can use short text captions to explain a point. This could be a relevant statistic, a famous quote, or just a short summary of an idea.

word component of mood board
Mood board example of words – made via Piktochart

4. Textures

As mentioned above, textures are great for adding to a physical mood board. Textures include paper, fabric, and more.

5-step method for creating your mood board to communicate your creative idea more effectively

Now that we’ve found out the benefits of having a mood board let’s look at the steps to creating a mood board of your own:

1. Define your idea.

The ultimate aim of a mood board is to communicate your creative ideas. To do this you first need to define what that idea is.

For example, your company services small business phone lines. You need to make a list of target keywords that come to mind in relation to your brand and niche. These could include small businesses, phone lines, business phone systems, budget phones, and remote sales communications.

You can then research these keywords and find relevant inspiration in the form of illustrations, typography, colors, and more to be used when you create mood boards.

This way, you’ll have a streamlined approach to shaping your concept and filtering out distractions. When you pursue the right leads, you’ll have more success in finding the right ideas.

2. Curate your mood board.

A mood board, while being a visual record of your creative ideas, is not a scrapbook. You’re trying to communicate your ideas with this board, so using it merely as a dumping ground for random image and text inspirations defeats the purpose.

Your mood board is what your client will see to understand your concept about the brand. The board has to tell a story.

Take time to curate your mood board so that the different elements on it can relate logically and organically to each other. Your board shouldn’t seem like an unconnected sequence of isolated words and images.

For example, you’re an estate agent hosting a virtual open house. The elements in your presentation will include a video tour of the house, a focus on its USP like a period fireplace, and a breakdown of the floor plan and specifications. You wouldn’t include pictures of other apartments you have sold because that’s irrelevant to the presentation.

Similarly, each element you include has to be carefully curated for mood boards, so it makes sense when put together as part of the bigger picture.

3. Focus on your key image.

A good rule of thumb while creating a mood board is to focus on one key image and structure all other elements around it.

The key image should be bigger than the other elements to immediately draw the audience’s attention.

For example, your key image should be of the decors if you’re trying to sell Christmas decors. This central image should be bigger and surrounded by images and words related to Christmas.

It’s natural to be drawn in by the big picture in a collage and then start linking the surrounding elements to this feature image. This is another reason why you should use visual storytelling in sales. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. Use real-life photos.

While stock photos are wonderful, real-life photos provide a more authentic feel to your mood board.

You don’t need fancy gadgets to take these photos. Your phone camera can take perfectly good shots. From interesting street-side graffiti to the flowers in your garden – everything can provide potential inspiration for an idea.

For example, the color of a rose in your garden may be exactly the shade you want for your product packaging. Don’t worry about taking the perfect photo. What matters is the connection it has with your product.

Real-life photos and elements are great for evoking emotional responses. This pays when you’re presenting to a client.

5. Don’t make assumptions.

The number one rule when creating a mood board is to imagine that you’re presenting it to people who have no idea about your brand or product.

Avoid starting with the assumption that people know what you’re trying to convey.

Use more references if needed, but make sure your mood board template is designed to be easy to understand and mostly self-explanatory.

Mood board examples for your next creative projects

Now that we’ve discussed the top tips for creating a mood board, let’s look at a few examples of using them:

1. Fashion mood board

The fashion industry is one of the best places to use mood boards. Design, style, and catalog presentations are best communicated via mood boards as a strongly visual medium. 

2. Interior design mood board

Like fashion, interior design is another largely visual industry. So all design ideas and inspirations, including fabric texture and color references to interior design quotes, are best communicated through mood boards.

3. Logos mood board

One of the most important aspects of branding is getting the right logo for your business. Logo design often comes from pooling together ideas and inspirations from various sources, including other logos, signs, and insignia.

Aside from having well-defined brand guidelines, having a visual reference where all these ideas are collated helps communicate your vision for the logo.

4. Typography mood board

Sometimes you need a mood board that is dedicated exclusively to the typography you want to use. Again, this inspiration can come from various sources, so a mood board helps effectively present these references. 

5. Color palette mood board

Like typography, you can also have a mood board that is dedicated specifically to your color palette references.

For example, if you were presenting a new design vision, your mood board could include the color references you want to use. This can include images, real photographs, and more. 

Ready to make your mood board?

In this article, we’ve discussed the merits of mood boards and how they can help organize your ideas. We also looked at their core elements when you create a mood board: photographs, textures, color schemes, color palettes, typography, and descriptive words. You also learned the basic steps to start making your own.

Mood boards are a reflection of your creativity. It is a very visual representation of your brain piecing together ideas and bringing them together to tell a singular, engaging story.

In summary, mood boards are a great visual reference for your creative vision and often act as a bridge between designers and their clients. What designers can visualize, mood boards can successfully portray.

No matter how simple or complex the idea is, a beautiful moodboard or multiple moodboards let you explain it better. Create your free Piktochart account to get started with your first digital moodboard today.