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  • Writer's pictureNorthPoint

Pixels To Print: Mood Boards

Mood boards are a place where all of your initial inspiration and ideas can come together to help you eventually develop your project further.  They are usually a physical or digital collage of everything from color palettes to snip outs from a magazine, and they are immensely helpful in the brainstorming process for graphic designers (and people in other industries too!).  To put it in simple terms, a mood board is a way to visually organize your ideas in one place so that you can move from your initial thoughts to a first draft of a design seamlessly.

Mood boards are beneficial for many reasons, but for one, they are very helpful for YOU to create a strong and clarified vision from the start.  They are the perfect place to store your ideas right when you have them so that you’ll never forgot what you were thinking or why you were thinking it.  You can always refer back to your mood board throughout a design process to remind you of the path that you were aiming to go down and the goal that you wanted to achieve with your design.  

Another extremely beneficial aspect of mood boards is that they help OTHERS.  They are great for sharing with clients early on in a design process to give them an idea of what you are thinking.  Instead of trying to explain what you plan to create, you can put together a mood board to illustrate what your ideas are and the direction that you are proposing to a client (Perfect for all the visual learners out there!).  

It is common to include things like possible textures, illustrations, font choices, color palettes, and images in a mood board, like in this example below:

However, they can also be more general and aim to represent a theme or certain qualities that you or a client would like to communicate in a project.  This example below could demonstrate a “cozy and modern” theme almost solely through images.  Yet, even without any specific design elements, they can still spark creative ideas for the next step.

Inspiration can be drawn from absolutely anywhere, so your mood board certainly does not have to be limited to just design elements and design examples.  Inspiration can come from just about anything from fine art to food packaging to a street sign that you drove by earlier today.  No matter what area of life, if it sparked inspiration in you – add it to your mood board! The mood board below is a perfect example of this.  It covers different sources of inspiration from a magazine cover to a photo of roses, but also includes some design elements like a color palette, web design examples, and illustrations – all of which create a “mood” when shown together.

It also isn’t necessary to just create one mood board.  Try creating two or three to test out different themes for yourself or to propose to a client and then go from there.  This can actually save a lot of time when working with other people! But it can also save time when trying to figure out for yourself which route you want to go in.  If you’ve ever experienced the dreaded decision of having to narrow down your creative ideas to one theme, trust me – this will help alleviate that process! 

As you can probably tell by now, there are no rules when it comes to mood boards, which is the beautiful thing about them.  There are no guidelines that you have to follow (unless you are working with a brand’s guideline’s, of course) or standards that you have to meet.  They are your home base for inspiration and yours to change or modify as needed.  One thing that is always true about them, though, is that they will always be beneficial to you and/or your client in the long run!

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