What is a Mood Board?

What is a Mood Board?

What is a Mood Board? 724 1024 James

Mood boards are a way of collecting your ideas into a collage, either for your own benefit and reference or to present to a client.

They’re great for designers and marketers that work with clients whose needs can be very specific. Here’s how to use a mood board in your creative work.


In this article:


What is a Mood Board?

Mood boards (sometimes referred to as inspiration boards) are a type of collage consisting of images, text, and samples of objects put together in a composition.

To designers, a mood board is a great way to visually research more about a brand or style. They work as a great way to find inspiration and can always be used as references when you come to design logos, brands or graphics.

Why Might You Use a Mood Board?

While I never used to understand the importance of mood boards, I’ve come to realise that they help develop a better understanding of a theme. Using mood boards to paint a picture of an overall theme, idea, or mood can help you visually pick out the aspects of images that you like to help align with a client’s needs. More than just this, how many times have you prepared some graphic design work for a client thinking that they’ll love it, but then they reject it? If you had presented them with a mood board beforehand, they’d be able to hand pick the ideas that they would like to see you incorporate into the project.

Following up on the previous nightmare, images are a much better way to convey information. When a client might ask for something to be “light blue and airy”, they could be asking for something completely different to the image that gets instantly painted within your head. Presenting them with a selection of visuals to pick from will help easily communicate their thoughts, using words to support the images!

I guess what they say is true, a picture paints a thousand words.

What are the Benefits of Using Mood Boards?

Mood boards are a great way to brainstorm ideas in an efficient and effective way. When you can put all of your thoughts, ideas, and a general theme around the direction that you want to head in on paper, you can easily come to a decision on what you think will work. They can be used to get from A to B, where A is nothing and B is a canvas to present to a client.

By using your clients as a starting point for the research, you can clearly show that their input is valued if you’re creating a mood board based entirely on what they’ve suggested. This can result in a better relationship and smoother client buy-in, making both of your lives easier.

How to Create a Mood Board

There are many ways to create and present a mood board, but the one that I am mainly referring to is a loose collage of images. I do this on Adobe Illustrator (but any other image or publication software should suffice).

First things first, you go to Google and just search for whatever comes into your head. If your client has given you keywords, they’re always a good start. Search for specific colours, materials, textures, atmospheres. Just go crazy and gather as many images as you can; you don’t have to end up using them all.

Once I’ve gathered all the images I like, I literally throw them all into Illustrator and spread them out around the canvas/artboard. From here, I’ll start organising them onto the page just by picking the ones that stick out to me the most. I always find that if I use the images that I like first, I don’t get stressed out further down the line when I can’t find room for something that I really like the look of.

One thing that I couldn’t grasp at first is that it doesn’t have to be neat. I spent hours trying to make sure that the collage looks “pretty”, but in the end, you’re just collecting ideas. I like to have it so that the images I like are bigger and stand out more to me and the client, while the ones I least like are generally smaller. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, just throw all your ideas down and see how it comes out!

What to do if You Have Too Many Images?

I always end up gathering too many images. But, that’s never a bad thing. What I tend to do is to create more than one mood board (usually 2-3) for the client which will help me categorise my thoughts and help present different ideas. An example that I did recently was gathering designs for an office; I ended up with a lot of images, so I separated the images into light and dark. I stuck to having a more laid back, airy and clean mood board for the brighter images while conveying a more sleek, professional, and formal vibe with the darker.

You don’t have to separate them into different colours, though. Try thinking a bit more outside the box – different themes, colours, textures, materials, places, moods, objects, eras. You can categorise mood boards any way that you see fit.

How to Present a Mood Board to a Client

Presenting a mood board is the same as you would any other proposal or piece of work: show it to your client and explain your thoughts and reasoning behind each decision you’ve made. Remember, you now have a visual aid to help convey your thoughts a lot better so your words can help support your ideas. If your client briefed you on some keywords before your research, you can use them create the link between those words and your findings. Collaborate and conclude ideas on the mood board that your client likes; you’ll be surprised how often clients will know what feels right to them within seconds of looking at your collage.

Give mood boards a go for your next project. They’re a fun, efficient and effective way to communicate your thoughts and ideas to clients. It’s a much nicer way to start a project rather than writing down a load of ideas then trying to describe your direction to a client.

Have you used mood boards? Let us know if they work for you or if you have considered using them after reading this! Leave a comment below

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