Moodboards: What, How, + Why


Before I start a project (personal or professional), I do two kinds of brain dumps – text and visual. Using a Google Drive document, I collect notes on the project – goals, specific elements, research, relevant links, etc. My other brain dump is a Pinterest board of visuals; I collect images that I’m attracted to for the project. These eventually turn into a strategy brief and moodboard respectively.

How to Create a Moodboard for Your Next Project

What is a Moodboard?

A moodboard is a curated selection of images, materials, text, that are selected to help guide a particular style or concept. A strong moodboard synthesizes various components to achieve brand goals as well as balance and composition.

You don’t have to use moodboards for branding. I will create a moodboard for most of my personal projects, mainly home projects where I’m making an investment – i.e. new furniture, bedding, etc.

How is a Moodboard Beneficial?

You might find yourself attracted to various styles and elements that don’t necessarily work well together. A moodboard can help you select items that work well and eliminate those that don’t.

For custom clients, I used their questionnaire and Pinterest board brain dump to create three different moodboards. Each board emphasizes different elements of their brand values. Since moodboards are the first design phase of the project, I like to keep options on the table and reduce them from there.

For blog design customers, each moodboard includes the following images:

  • Typography: Examples of heading and paragraph text
  • Color inspiration/palettes: A universal color scheme primarily drives the general presentation
  • Texture: Examples of pattern styles that will complement the branding
  • Blogger’s Photography: Graphics play such a significant role in the blog design, I always include a few images of the client’s brand. These images set the standard for other images.

Moodboards identify preferences and cohesion; the elements included should drive inspiration and not be copied.

How do I Create a Moodboard?

Creating moodboards are quite easy, but I recommend taking your time gathering your inspirational pieces. The content of your images sets the foundation for your project.

  1. Create a project-specific Pinterest board. Spend a few days adding graphics that you like. If Pinterest isn’t your jam, you can collect images on a folder on your computer. Just gather images and store them in one place.
  2. Once you feel satisfied with everything you’ve collected, review the images as a whole. I prefer to print out elements and display them on a huge foam board. When I’m selecting images to print, I usually can remove a few things during that process. Also, once you start editing, don’t return to the inspiration phase. People tend to lose direction in their projects when they never leave the research phase. Don’t rush the investigation phase, just make sure you feel content before you move on to the next step.
  3. As you review all the elements, start eliminating things that you don’t like. Each image should serve a purpose. Why do you include it on the board? What is its takeaway? Pull out pieces that you do like. As you are pulling your likes, arrange them in a way so that you can view them together. Images should start to work together cohesively. If something stands out, put it off to the side.
  4. Place images into your moodboard template. The whole moodboard should have a cohesive feel to it. Here’s where most people make a mistake – they just put together images without any reason. When you go through each image in your moodboard, you should describe why you included it.

How Do I Use My New Moodboard?

Your new moodboard should make sense to you visually; it should be balanced and cohesive. If it feels off, return to your brain dump. Remove images that don’t fit and add others. Each image should build off of the other one. I recommend including between 5-9 pictures in your moodboard.

The new moodboard will inspire your project’s visual direction. Use it to guide you through decisions such as what and how to include different elements.

What about Photo Credits?

I use moodboards solely for internal purposes. Typically, only the client and I see the moodboard. If you are using moodboards for other purposes, then always include the credits in your posts. Remember, Pinterest and Google are not sources; use the links to the original content.

Free Moodboard Templates!

I’ve added a new FREE download to the shop – Moodboard Templates. This package comes with three different square (1600px by 1600px) templates.  I built them in the same manner as my Blog Post and Social Media Graphics, so they are a great free download if you want to see what the templates are like!

Plus, I’ve included two video tutorials on how to use the templates to place in images and change colors!

You Might Also Like: Brand Colors: What, How, and Why + Working With Type: Tips + Tricks for Using Typography in Your Brand

Want more Blog Design tutorials? Check out these posts on Blog Design! If you have any questions about this post, leave a comment below.

How to Create a Moodboard for Your Next Project