How To Create A Thoughtful and Well Curated Moodboard. Plus Free Moodboard Templates!

I love that exciting feeling you get when you decide it's time for a rebrand, or maybe you are just starting out and are in the beginning stages of bringing your brand to life. You probably have a million ideas running through your head and the possibilities seem endless. As exciting as it is, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to even begin, we've all been there, myself included. Thankfully the moodboard process can ease the stress and pull your project in the right direction, and that's why I believe it's the most important step in the design process. Below I'm going to tell you why creating a moodboard is so beneficial for client projects and most definitely your own personal projects. I'm also going to tell you the key things to include and how to go about creating a moodboard. 

If you start any project without researching and finding inspiration then you are doing a disservice to yourself and your client. Imagine buying an expensive plane ticket to a city you've never been to, without researching or planning ahead. Yikes! You probably want to know more about the city, if it's safe, if it's worth going to, where to stay, etc, etc. The same goes with planning your project, you want to know the direction to go in when it comes to style, colours, typography, shapes, and patterns. By creating a moodboard you are setting the overall tone of project, this is especially important if you are working with a client. Do you have to create a moodboard? Not necessarily, there are other ways to go about it, however I find moodboards the easiest and most convenient way.  

So let's begin! 

Where do you find images?

Here is a short list of where I like to find my images, some more obvious than others.

  • Pinterest - this is an obvious one. Pinterest is a great place to find images and inspiration. It's also a great place to create a secret board where you can keep your moodboard images. I will go into this more later. 
  • Dribbble - Dribbble is a place where designers upload snippets of their work in progress. Other designers can comment on them and give suggestions, and praise. By using Dribbbles search bar you can look for inspiring images to add to your moodboard.
  • Designspiration - this is another great place to source images, you can search by keyword and even by colour.
  • Behance - Behance is an online portfolio site for designers. It's a great place to find other branding projects that inspire you.

Housing your images

As I mentioned above Pinterest is great, almost too great, it's easy to get distracted and fall down the beautiful image rabbit hole. Next thing you know it's two hours later and you can't remember why you were on Pinterest to begin with. I may or may not be speaking from experience :D Anyways, let's get back on track. Pinterest allows you to create secret boards so that only you and the people you invite into the board can pin to it. This is a great place to collect all the images you found online. If you don't have a Pinterest account and don't want to sign up for one, another way to go about it is to create a folder on your desktop and keep all the images in there. You should also create a text document and leave the links to all the images that way you can find them easily later on down the road. Also, when it comes time to leave credit for the images you use, you can easily link them on your blog.

How many images should you pin?

There really isn't a right or wrong answer, however in my opinion more is better. You wouldn't want to pin only ten images and expect to create a moodboard that truly expresses your brand vision. Pin to your hearts content. I usually spend a day or two pinning and researching my project and aim to pin at least 50-70 images. If you have a client invite them into the board and have them pin as well. This will make sure you both are on the same page. 

What should you pin?

When it comes to picking out images keep in mind that they are images you find inspiring for your brand. They are not just pretty images you like because you think they would like nice laid out next to each other, or images of cute puppies because they are adorable. Make sure you are pinning with reason and intent. If you see a pin with a nice typeface and could see your brand with something similar, pin it! If you see a nice colour palette that intrigues you, pin it! If you see a pretty pattern that speaks to you, pin it!

Colours

When adding colour to your mood board you should only use colours that you want your brand to convey. You can add colours by using a solid colour or colour that is already added in an image, as long as you can look at the moodboard and instantly ‘get it’ then you’re on the right path. 

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Typography

Typography, to me, is the most important part of the mood board. Good typography can make or break the project so nailing down what you are trying to achieve is super important in this stage. If you are looking for a more modern brand you might go with a san serif font, or if you are trying to achieve a classic look you might go with a serif font. 

Branding Elements

It’s a good idea to add one or two branding elements that you could see your brand having a similar style to. Just by looking at the two images below you can tell that the first image is a modern brand with simplicity and style. The second image is a natural, most likely organic brand for a restaurant. By pinning the right images you will have a better idea of the direction you should be going in with the project. 

Patterns and Shapes

You might overlook it but patterns and shapes can play an important part in your design. As you can see in the first image below, this person used shapes and a pattern in their secondary logo design, which gives it a funky, modern look. You don't have to use these in your logo, sometimes it's nice to have patterns to use on your business card, website, and blog. 

The day after I'm finished pinning I like to go through the board once more and delete anything I'm not feeling. I do this the day after because I have a fresh view on the board. I like to narrow my board down to at least 20 pins that I'm really happy with before putting the moodboard together. 

PUTTING THE MOODBOARD TOGETHER

I have Adobe Illustrator so that is what I like to use. Further down I have listed free online collage makers in case you don't have Illustrator. If you do have Illustrator I will show you how I go about creating my moodboards. 

1. When first starting out I like to create a new art board with my moodboard template ready to go. I then start puling images on to my art board from Pinterest. I've attached a photo of what that looks like.

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2. Next I will start taking images and clipping them into the moodboard. I'll show you how to do that below.

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3. Pick an image you would like to use.

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4. Place the image over the block you would like to clip it to.

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5. Right click on the image and send it to the back. 

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6. When the image is sent to the back I then like to lower the opacity on the grey box so I can see through, and line up the image where I want it to sit. You can find the opacity setting on the top bar, as pictured above.

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7. Once the image is lined up to my liking I select both the image and the grey box and right click, 'make clipping mask.'

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And just like that the image is clipped. I will do this for grey box until the moodboard is complete.

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8. When it comes to selecting colours for your moodboard I like to use the eyedropper tool.

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9. You can find the eyedropper tool over on the left toolbar. Once you have it selected you can go into the images and select the colours you like. Just click on one of the grey circles and then use the eyedropper to select the colour you like. The grey circle will change to the colour you've chosen.

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GIVING CREDIT

If you plan on using other people's images for your moodboard it is important to give credit to the person. I like to use numbers or letters underneath my moodboard that are clickable links, which then take you to the original source, as show below. Sometimes if you find images on Pinterest they aren't always linked to the original source so you might have to do some digging around. If you right click on the image and hit 'search Google for image' most times it will take you to the rightful owner. Do your best, I know sometimes it is impossible to find the original source.

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Moodboard collage sites 

If you don't have Illustrator don't fret, there are free sites online where you can upload your images and create a collage. Here are a few that are pretty decent:


If you do have Illustrator then I have a treat for you. Download my two free moodboard templates. They work with CS2 and higher.

Well friend, I hope you have learned a thing or two about creating moodboards. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section and I'll respond to you ASAP. If you end up using my free moodboards I'd love to see what you've created. Tag your photos with #forthandmoodboard. 

And finally, if you are looking for more of my moodboards you can purchase them over in the Blog Shop

 
 

Talk soon!