Mood boards are something special for many designers. Often times is how an idea starts to born, or better yet, the first action to put it to practice.
The good thing about mood boards is that you can use them for everything. From client work to passion projects, or even life events.
So what are mood boards and why are they important?
Mood boards are a collection of information. They can be physical or digital. However, the most common is to do it digitally (we’re in the digital age after all).
Photos, text, illustration, video, animation, you name it. As long as it helps you visualize the project, you can attach anything to your mood board.
The reason why designers are such big fans of mood boards is that they facilitate showing and visualizing ideas/processes. This way, you can use mood boards as a validating tool before starting a project.
Afterward, once it starts, it can also be used to keep everyone on the same page (client, boss, or coworker).
My process for mood boards
I like to do one mood board before starting a project, to keep my ideas in a single place.
However, you can use as many as you like. Also, don’t limit yourself in any way. Go with what it feels right to you and your project.
These are the steps that I always take to collect my initial ideas:
1) start by reading the briefing and highlighting keywords;
2) write down the keywords and research synonyms;
3) do additional specific research related to the project;
4) compile words, images, colors, and fonts;
5) organize and put everything together in a cohesive way.
An additional step is to include resources that already exist, or that should be taken into consideration.
After these steps, I share the mood board. I explain my ideas, why I’m going with that approach, and ask for feedback and validation.
Once I have the approval of everyone involved, I keep the mood board to make sure everyone is on the right track.
Free Tools for creating mood boards
Besides Photoshop and Illustrator, there are online tools that you can use to create mood boards.
Among them, I selected 5 of them that I believe are worth trying.
I know this one is an obvious choice for some people. But, this tool is still being highly used to save random stuff.
However, Pinterest can be a really good source for mood boards.
Besides sharing boards, you can also invite people to join and add pins. This way, everyone can contribute at the same time.
Canva can be a great ally. If you feel like you don’t know how to organize the information, it’s a great place to check out some layouts and adapt them to your own needs.
Similarly to Canva, you can use templates from Adobe Spark to build your mood boards.
Another cool option is that you can download the app for free and use it anywhere and everywhere.
It’s an online tool that allows you to create and share your mood board without having to create an account. As simple as that.
You can start from a blank canvas, or use a predefined template from the platform.
Milanote is similar to the previous one but requires a sign-up.
In my opinion, it has a more intuitive approach to mood boarding than the rest of this list, which makes it easier for beginners.
Mood boards are a great tool once you start using them.
They will trigger initial ideas, keep everyone in check for the duration of the project, and serve as a visual explanation of the project’s process.