You may remember a year ago, this really scary video that was produced by the ‘Evolution of the Desk’ by BestReviews. It was a startling reality check into the way the world has evolved technologically (and I’m not talking about the high-quality garment printing machinery for customised T-shirts available nowadays), as well as a reminder of the origin of many tools that we use on a daily basis. The mood board template is certainly featured here and perhaps one of the most iconic examples of the shift from the traditional physical, to the digital world.
Create a mood board
Mood boards have been used across a wide range of design related professions as a way of collecting and presenting ideas in order to enable the development of a particular project or briefing. They’ve been used quite extensively in fashion and in interior design as a way of creating inspirational collages of textures, shapes, colours and styles as a way of creating an overall look and feel of the design. They can be used in collaboration with the client (although not necessarily) and many designers find them essential to the generation of ideas in the early stages of the conceptualisation of their work. Nowadays they aren’t only used in the world of fashion and interior design, but also in UI and UX (user interaction and experience design), web design, and various different branches of graphic design.
Types and Styles
Creating a mood board template can be quite a personal experience, it depends largely on how you feel inspired. It’s certainly not supposed to be a boring, unfulfilling task, but something enjoyable and fun to do. For that reason, it’s a little each to their own in terms of layout, structure, style and format. I’ll go through some of the general differences in style with some examples to give you the general idea.
The Physical Mood board
Mood boards, of course, were originally physical objects that consisted of everything from photography to magazine cuttings and even textures, such as fabrics and snippets of other inspirational objects – you could almost consider it like a giant scrapbook. If you’re quite a hands-on person, this kind of format may suit you best.
Here is an example of a physical mood board template by littleaesthete:
Here’s another one from threefeelings
If you don’t consider yourself to be a great collector of things, you find it a little tricky to focus on concepts or you simply want to try a new method of gathering ideas, I very strongly recommend ‘How to Be an Explorer of the World’ by Kerri Smith. Coming from a very traditional scrapbooking-come-documenting perspective, this book is a must-have for encouraging you to think differently about the world around you and certainly is an alternative way to construct more tactile mood boards. There’s an excellent, more detailed review by Brainpickings.
How to Be an Explorer of the World by Kerri Smith
The Digital Moodboard
Since times have evolved and we don’t always have our clients in the next room, of course even mood boards have gone digital. There are several services online that you can use to generate your boards and to share them internally with colleagues, upload them to the cloud, etc. There are equally many articles that list and review these resources, although be aware that several tools are no longer available from the looks of things, such as Moodstream by Getty Images and Imagespark.
Paid online Mood board Tools
Warning! This one is highly addictive if you like furniture, and/or interior design. This is a free online tool, where you can simply drag and drop furniture items to create little interior scenes. Whilst it’s a much more specialised tool, it will still get your creative juices flowing and you can always have a little nose at other people’s ideas. Here’s some of the fun I had with it.
Is an online app that allows you to grab stuff off the internet and add it to collections in order to create a library of, well, stuff. You could you use it as a mood board tool, with their promise that the content you collect is ‘yours’ i.e. it’s not going to disappear even if the service does, and with the recent changes on services such as flickr, that is a real possibility we need to take into consideration. Released in 2011, it doesn’t seem to have given Pinterest a run for it’s money yet.
Gimme Bar Moodboard by Simon Collison
If you’re an ipad user, you can download the Mood board app for $9,99 or try the free version, Moodboard Lite. Since I’m not an iPad user, I haven’t been able to test it out, though the reviews seem to be pretty good, stating that you can drop almost anything from the internet onto a board.
This tool was originally an internal mood board creator, which the team put online for us all to use for free, though I have to admit, I can’t seem to fathom how it actually works, since I haven’t been able to save any of my creations… strange.
Whilst this one is not just for creating mood boards, but also a resource for collaborating on projects in groups, it gives you the option to create up to 3 boards, with 3 collaborators for free, so may well be worth a try.
A special tool that enables you to search through Flickr images. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this gives you the right to use the images commercially, though you can check the creative commons licenses on photos that interest you. If what you’re looking for is royalty free images, you should read our article ‘Open source & Creative Commons: Where Bananas, Superman & NASA meet.’
By trying to solve the dizziness created by all these different platforms, apps and mapping tools, Mural.ly adds just another one to the pile. If you like it though, you’ll have to open your wallet, because it’s only free for a 30-day trial.
Where to get ideas
Regardless of whether you opt for the physical or digital mood board template, where you get your ideas from is really key. Imagine you have decided that your concept is ‘growth’ for example. You can imagine the types of images that google will throw up if you search for this, equally, in Pinterest, you’re likely to have some trouble since it’s a bit of an abstract thing. One way to resolve this problem and to be creative is to write a list of words related to the word (around 100) in order to help you to really think outside of the box. Then, look for images relating to these words.
Don’t forget your surroundings
Sometimes a simple trip to the library can help you to search for ideas and inspiration in a different way. Here’s an example of an offline bit of investigation I did for a project – the only limitation? I didn’t touch the internet. This included short mobile videos, photos, photocopying, reading newspapers, magazines and taking random clippings of things I found.
Things to take into consideration
#1 Size matters (as does position)
The positioning and size of things on your mood board should ideally reflect their importance or relationship to the original idea itself. It can be a good idea to have one image or texture that you use as a reference point for all the others, and arrange them accordingly. This serves 2 purposes, firstly, it creates a focus for all the elements on the board, secondly, it guides your client to the graphic concepts you consider to be more important.
Moodboard for a TV Channel by Hayley Cantor
#2 Client’s understanding
Remember that unfortunately not all clients will understand the process of the mood board template (that’s why they hired you). Your job is to create something that gives them a visual feel for where you’re going in terms of style and concept. This may mean creating 2 different boards, depending on the project.
Moodboard for an Animation 1 by Hayley Cantor
Moodboard for an Animation 1 by Hayley Cantor
A physical mood board is great, unless your client works on the other side of the world. Before you get too excited consider how you will present the board, in person or online? Via PDF or jpg? All of these elements will inform the way in which you compile your investigation.
#4 Quantity of images – examples of loads and not many
Some projects require a lot of imagery, designing a complex website may need a wide range of interactions and visual codes, whereas perhaps a logo may not. Whilst you may, like me, have 50+ boards on Pinterest from which to draw your ideas, don’t overwhelm the client. If you can do it in 5 images, do it in 5: less is more, and you run less risk of being taken off on a tangent with that bunny picture you selected because you liked background.
#5 Media (photography/illustration/3D)
Mood boards templates don’t have to be limited to illustration just because your project is about illustrating a children’s book, nor does it have to be all in 3D graphics because you’re designing a 3D video game. Be sure to draw your references from very different worlds and to communicate across all registers. You’re much more likely to reach the client this way, just be clear on the final look and feel of the project and the media you will eventually use.
Polyvore Moodboard by kalmialatifolia
Tips and Tricks
If you need more expert tips, read this excellent article by Creativbloq, but in the meantime, I will share my personal little tips and tricks with you. How do I look for inspiration? Well, I already shared my library trick with you, but this doesn’t always work, eventually I also have to use the internet, but where to start?
- Do the 100 word list
- Google similar images search (by simply dragging and dropping an image back up into the search bar).
- Search by colour in Designspiration
- Scout videos for visual concepts on Vimeo, Berlin Music Video Awards
- Ask friends and family
- Read the newspaper, magazines
Screenshot of Designspiration Moodboard
The Moodboard of Moodboards
If you really get into this like a mad scrapbooker would, you can create many moodboards for the same topic. Then, I would suggest creating the moodboard of all moodboards. This means, collecting and cross-referencing for repeating concepts and patterns, shapes, sizes and colours to really curate and refine to make the best moodboard EVER.
Since I’m quite traditional, I’d like to leave you with some mood board templates. Actually, I created them for myself and I just use command + D in Indesign to place images in the boxes. The boxes are all deliberately different sizes, for different image formats, so you can focus on details, and visually prioritise the information you want to. Happy moodboarding!
Downloadable Mood Board Templates
Other webs and resources of interest, including more downloadable mood board templates:
Neshawoolery: Free template download
Pinterest: A Pinterest board to follow
Sampleboard: For interior design moodboards
Polyvore: An alternative moodboard tool that can be used as one, and is great for sharing ideas
Download our FREE mood board templates, designed especially for you by the Graphic Design team at Printsome.
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