The Purpose of Mood Boards

A mood board, not to be confused with a mood ring, or a mood swing, is a way to collect different creative information in order to prepare for a new project. It is a segue between initial thoughts or meeting and the first draft of your project. The mood board enables your client to see the design direction you are moving towards before you invest hours upon hours of work into designing.

Mood boards can be created generally, in two different ways; physically or digitally. A mood board in the physical sense looks like a collage of images, fonts, color schemes, etc. Let me paint you a picture. You’re flipping through a magazine, you find yourself on a page that has a text layout, color palette, or picture of a bear on a unicycle that you just love. Your next step would be to cut that thing out, and attach it to a large board. Some people use poster board, some use foam core. I’d prefer to use a cork board and push pins for easy rearranging, then clean and file the images once the project is complete. In the digital realm, the mood board is a much more organized library of examples. There are different websites that are created as blogs, but can be used productively as an interactive mood board. Some of these websites include Springpad and Pinterest. Both of these allow the user to create folders that can stand for various projects or clients. The internet allows you to easily share your mood board with clients or collaborators. With the advent of the internet, most content and media has moved online, which makes it easy to copy URL’s and images from one site to another. This interactive form of a mood board works well in being able to see what your client is posting as well as allowing them to see what you are posting in real time. This allows for quicker responses and easier communication. There are pro’s and con’s to both forms of mood board creation. It really comes down to how you plan on sharing your thoughts with others, and your personal preference.


A mood board can contain a variety of different resources depending on the project you are collecting for. This includes anything that can help form a creative decision for any aspect of the project, such as; color, texture, composition, lighting, typography, style, era, video samples, shapes, any images that inspire an idea, and more.

Every designer can attest to the client that just can’t picture what you describe to them when brainstorming, getting deep into the initial designs, and having the client be surprised by the direction of your designs. Creating mood boards up front before getting into designing anything can help prevent this from happening again. The client can see your direction, you can get the clients feedback and input in to what direction they might be thinking, and everyone becomes a little less moody.

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