24 pro tips for creating inspirational mood boards

You weren’t ‘touched’ by the exhibition or ‘moved’ by what was on show – and other similar emotive profusions. The distinction is not trivial: the two formats demand very different approaches. 18. If your eureka moment happened on the bus, bring in the ticket. But to hear this when finished artwork comes back from a client is gutting, signifying that it’s back to square one. Here, designer and founder of creative agency Digital Surgeons, Peter Sena, explains why he thinks mood boards are so effective, and how to make the most of them. How to pitch mood boards
07. Creating an Effective Mood Board
This seven-minute video tutorial by David Perel of Obox walks you through his personal method in creating mood boards, which is broken up into manageable stages. Traditionally mood boards are made from foam board and cutting this stuff up with a scalpel and spray mounting cut-out images onto it can be a pain, especially if you’re not dexterous with a blade. Share them with us in the comments below! When putting together mood boards, think of yourself as a curator rather than a collector, and try to have meaning and threads from one image to the next. Test your mood board
Finally, don’t forget to test out your boards before you send them off. 17. If you’re using preview images from image libraries don’t worry about the watermarking on them – it all adds up to a ‘hey look, we can change this – these are ideas’ feel to the board. This type of thing intrigues people’s brains and gains that all-important emotive reaction. You have to put these people ‘in your mood’ so ignore their mutterings and watch their emotive reactions. This is standard practice, but consider instead making them part of your pitch or presentation. But it’s extremely effective as a presentation tool. So professional designers will often use mood boards: a collection of textures, images and text related to a design theme as a reference point. So use the camera on your phone to take pictures of everything you see that inspires you – whether that be a bird in flight, a great use of typography on a sign, or the brickwork on a building. Reasons why mood boards are worth the extra time
A lot of learning how to do something is about learning why you’re doing it. What would give them a genuine emotive response to? 16. Creating the mood board
03. The finished characters20. But just because you’re working on a digital product, don’t just look for digital-based inspiration. Aim to spark an emotional response
Think a little bit left of centre if you’re presenting a mood board to a client. ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ is a phrase most of us are familiar with. Further reading
21. 10. Choose the right format
A mood board for UnicefFind out at the outset whether your mood board is going to be presented in person or emailed to the client. Joel Steidl at Aten Design Group explains how using one can help things move faster, saving you time in the long run. Remember, it’s not a game of Pictionary, so if your testing audience have to ask too many times what an image means or why it’s there, then it probably shouldn’t be there in the first place. 02. If you ever want to test out your mood boarding skills – the ultimate challenge at making mood boards – try this out and showcase it to your colleagues. Use mood boards to speed up client signoff
Mood boards shouldn’t just be for pitches. 09. If you’re not having fun then it’s a sure sign you’re going about things the wrong way… Again, it’s a subliminal trick. Ignore any verbal client ‘oohs and ahhs’ but instead watch their facial and emotive reactions as they look around the board. So here are a collection of tips to help make your mood board making more effective – and double your chances of winning that pitch! Keep things loose
Locking an idea or a style down in a mood board can be detrimental, as the client will feel shoehorned into going with a particular style. Take pictures when you’re out
Real world inspirations are all around us. They’re fantastic show-stoppers and give your viewer pause for thought as they have to mentally read what’s in front of them. If you place smaller supporting images around the larger image they should do this job for you by clarifying the messaging given in the larger one. If you were inspired by the beach, bring in a shell. It makes for easier interpretation. An online mood board should be tighter and will generally need to work harder to convey a theme or style. Combining the mood images with the presentation helped win the pitch08. It makes no sense to have something which originated in your head being communicated by someone else, because that way meaning can become muddled in a Chinese whispers-type mess. Show your mood board early
Mood images for a Daft Punk packaging designGenerally mood boards are considered to be separate to pitch or presentation work; they stand alone to show mood and tone. Chances are they won’t. Here we explore mood boards – what they are, how can they help, and how you make one. Just be careful with your fingers on that blade… 04. Save the surprise
It’s important to make sure that a well-meaning project manager doesn’t email an offline mood board ahead of the presentation ‘so they know what we’re presenting’. Mood Boarding Methods for Web Designers
Stephanie Hamilton explains the benefits of the mood board in the web design process and how to go about it. Text it up
Don’t ignore the power of a few isolated words on a board. Don’t make presumptions
Presumption making can be the difference between a successful mood board and one that’s dismissed as being too cerebral. Using mood boards at different stages of the process can help you avoid this happening. It’s much harder to be clear and use imagery to sell your vision than hiding behind a pile of incomprehensible references just to fill the board out with. The answer will decide whether you produce an offline or online mood board. But it’s worth the effort to do so. General pointers
12. Make the theme obvious
Obscure references can be fun but try to have a number of relatable items or ‘touch points’ featured in your mood board. Big, bold words juxtaposed together work very well at creating drama, tone and meaning for any project. That said, mood boards can be a pain to create, with many hours spent trawling image galleries, websites, books and magazines looking for that perfect image to sum up your intended feel for the work at hand. When trying to convey a design idea, moods, feelings and fluffy stuff like that are hard to communicate. It’s very easy to shove a load of stuff together and call it an exhibition; it’s an absolute talent to curate threads and synergies between works and call it an exhibition. Get tactile
When making a physical mood board, don’t be afraid to get, well, physical. They don’t have to be great photos in the traditional sense – it’s all about capturing thoughts, impressions, themes and feelings. Build things up around a large image
Whether it’s being electronic or physical, the layout of your mood board needs to give prominence to key theme images, then surround these with smaller supporting images that enhance the theme. Watch the audience’s faces
When you’re presenting an offline mood board, watch the faces of those you’re showing it to. The tactile nature of cut-out images glued onto boards enhances the emotiveness of what’s being explained. When someone looks at a large image on your board in their heads they’ll have questions about it – which they’ll quickly scan the rest of the board to find answers for. Real world inspiration such as this can be a very powerful ‘convincer’ when putting together a board for a client. Gathering inspiration
01. 11. There’s a danger of expecting too much of the audience – that they’ll ‘know what you mean’. For example, whilst working on the ITV news website, digital innovators Made by Many looked at copies of the veteran Picture Post magazine in order to express how powerful and effective an image plus a caption can be for telling a news story. So if it takes a few more references, images or textures to get what’s inside your head into a client’s then add them in. Look beyond the digital world
Made by Many used copies of Picture Post to inspire their redesign of the ITV News siteWhen putting together mood boards, it’s easy (and therefore tempting) to just use Google Images. An offline mood board will generally be looser in style and require the extra kick and emotive spark that comes from it being presented to a client.

Updated: 26.11.2014 — 17:49