How Do You Design Killer Mood Boards?

How Do You Design Killer Mood Boards?

As all graphic designers know, it’s almost impossible to second guess exactly what your client is looking for in a design. After all, each and every client is going to have different needs and tastes, so it’s always an uphill struggle for a designer to match this.

This is the number one reason why many designers find their initial ideas being rejected. However, there’s a canny and inspirational trick which may just save your bacon and keep that pitch on the table.

And this career saving move comes in the form of mood boards.

What’s a mood board?

Now, mood boards aren’t an indicator of what mood you’re in, in fact, at their simplest level they’re a collage of pictures which screams INSPIRATION!

A more complex understanding of them is that they’re a presentation of the themes you intend to bring to a project and the emotional and stylistic designs which will define it. And these visual flourishes can really make an immediate impact on clients.

But how do you make sure your mood board is fully firing on all cylinders?

Grab Inspiration Everywhere

Everyone and their dog has a camera phone these days, so there’s no excuse for not loading up on inspiration wherever you are.

Maybe you’re at the park and one of nature’s many wonders suddenly sparks off a million ideas or maybe it’s an upturned shopping trolley in the river. Mood boards love to soak up these types of images not for their immediate visuals, but the deeper, ingrained emotional punch they can pack.

Use Size to Emphasise Your Main Points

Mood boards are busy little pieces and it’s possible for a client’s attention to be zig zagging all over the place as a result. This won’t inspire your client; it’ll just induce a headache.

And headaches never win you pitches!

The best way to get around this to highlight exactly what you’re aiming for by using larger images for your key points. This will draw the client’s attention to what’s important and then allow them to easily digest the finer points of your mood board.

Don’t Rely on Google Images!

Too often, these days, I see mood board after mood board which is exactly the same. Sure, they may be arranged slightly differently, but they’re the same old images!

It’s all thanks to the global mega stardom of Google Images as the number one picture resource known to man. And, yes, I head to Google Images too for inspiration, but I don’t depend on it to be my visual lifeline.

Remember, just 15 years ago the world of online images was a lot smaller and before that you actually had to go out and work hard to find your inspiration. Magazines, books and newspapers had to be obtained and flicked through until you found that amazing image which said a thousand words.

So try the old fashioned method and seek out offline alternatives for stocking up on images. You’ll find that your mood boards become more unique and effective with this approach.

Mood Boards in the Digital Age

The internet, though, remains a highly important tool for your creative needs and now does a nice sideline in digital mood boards.

Online platforms such as Pinterest, GoMoodBoard and SampleBoard allow you to design mood boards without getting glue all over your hands and makes editing the mood boards much easier.

And, of course, the ability to share your mood boards with clients becomes a lot easier. There’s no rushing to meetings with a mood board under your arm and it becomes possible to get them in front of global clients without a plane ticket.

When starting a project I’d always prioritise designing a mood board to show your client exactly what you’re looking to deliver. This gives the client the opportunity to get on board and offer early feedback which is invaluable in meeting their vision.



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