How to mood board

How to create mood boards

I have a bit of a confession to make: I love mood boarding maybe a little more than I love designing and it’s no surprise that for me Pinterest is one of my favorite tools. I think it stems from my need to classify things. Creating a visual representation of a new brand, a movie, or that next perfect fashion trend is exciting and part of the basis of every good project because without a mood board,  you and your team/client can’t solidify the style/mood/theme etc.


A mood board is typically a combination of images, fonts, colors, and textures that define the style of the project. It is a tool for creatives and clients to come to an agreement about style. They come in many forms and they might even be called something different depending on the industry that you’re in. I’ve seen mood boards show up in fashion, film, photography, branding, web design, wedding planning, interior decorating etc. and they all have different ways of laying out their graphics.

Some of the key points to consider: Layout, format, color, typography, and texture.


Digital or physical also influences the style and depends on who needs to see it. I typically see digital mood boards more in wedding planning, branding, and web design.

mood board: delightfully modern

Digital Format

Creating a mood board with photoshop or illustrator is more common and easier for most because you can easily manage all your images digitally. You can re-arrange them, testing out different layouts and manipulate them to suit your needs.


Physical Format

Physical mood boards give you an extra tactile element and work best with industries that produce actual objects like fashion and interior design.

Having physical objects mixed in with images pinned up on a real board feels very rustic and becomes more of a piece of mixed media art, and I think It tells a richer story too. I see this most when working in the physical medium like interior design, event planning, and fashion design.


mood board: delightfully modern

Source: Delightful modern moodboard

1. It’s a one page document. If you’ve got pages and pages, you start to dilute your style. Find only the BEST images that represent your style and stick with them. The rest is fluff.

2. It’s the sum of it’s parts. How you order and display your images speaks just as strongly about the mood as the images themselves.

Do: Line images up. I’ll never forget my layout teacher grabbing a ruler and making sure that everything on my page lined up some how. When you see bad design, Most people won’t know why they don’t want to look at it, but subconsciously what’s happening is that their eyes (and brain) are working extra hard to make sense of things that are almost aligned, too close, or nonsensical. A lot of it has to do with gestalt principles, but just take my word for it: if you’re going for order, commit to it and line your stuff up.

mood board - rainy day fun

Source: Here Comes The Rain Mood Board

Do: Experiment with different shapes! I’m seeing more and more geometric looking mood boards and it adds a lot of interest.

How About Collage Style?

Other mood boards are more freeform; they over lap, they have inconsistent borders, and they are usually coming from all different sorts of media, but they can be all digital too. This is more like a collage and gives off a “hand-made” or chaotic feel. It also makes it feel more like a “process” and less of a “finished piece” like the structured examples. Fashion design uses this method a lot when covering new trends or designing a new line.

creatively daring guide to creating digital mood boards

Do: Consider who’s seeing and using the board. If  it’s just for you, putting it up on your wall or in a sketch book can work, but if you have an entire team of both creatives and business types, a more digital format might be best for sharing.



Color plays an important role in your mood, and thus should be obvious when looking at your entire mood board. The color palette should definitely be defined through the imagery you’re using. If you have a bunch of different images that have all different color schemes, you may need to simplify or go back and find more cohesive images. This can sometimes come organically, when you find a few images that speak to the style you’re looking for and suddenly you notice a common color palette or maybe you know that you want to work in the sunset color palette, and you begin to look for images that suit that. Along with images, you can also include color cards, fabric swatches, or physical items that represent the colors.


mood board - autumn romance

Source: Fall Romantic Mood Board

Mood boards don’t always have to be just about images and colors. If typography is a vital part of your styling, you can definitely include font choices. I see this most in branding, web design and sometimes wedding planning mood boards (fonts on invites?) As usual, the fonts must make sense with the rest of the piece.

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