perfect moodboard step-by-step
Aly Yarmoliuk

How to create an ideal mood board: the ultimate guide

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mood board is a helpful tool anyone can use to get a bit of inspiration, explore and outline their ideas and dreams, present their ideas and dreams to others, and move from a raw draft to a plan of action.

The process of creating a mood board has evolved during the last decade. Now, you can avoid going over dozens of magazines to find the needed pieces. There’s nothing between you and your idea’s visual representation. We offer you to make one in only 4 steps:

  1. Define for what purpose you need your mood board
  2. Compile needed elements that inspire you
  3. Turn them into a cohesive picture
  4. Review the result and make refinements if necessary.

That’s how easy and fast it will be with the xTiles Moodboard template. We also offer a mood board example created to show you what it might look like. Let’s start doing it together step-by-step. In the end, you will have a mood board that is appealing and stylish and perfectly represents your ideas and feelings.
Ready to use Mood Board from xTiles

What is a mood board?

Sometimes words are not enough to express our idea, so we keep it to ourselves until it fades. Sometimes we’re too scared to present our thoughts to others, so we choose to stay silent. A moodboard is your tool for speaking out loud what can’t be outlined in words.

Traditionally, a mood board is a collage of different elements linked together by the same idea or purpose, and mostly by glue. The concept of a mood board was significantly modified by Pinterest. Now it looks like the activity we can easily manage without harm to our usual routine just for fun, to plan our outfits, find ideas for interior designs, nails design, etc. The truth is that for many professionals, especially those in marketing and design, mood boards are part of their working process.

We believe that mood board creation is a strong organizational skill. You can’t put anything you want indiscriminately because the result will be total gibberish with no purpose and no representation potential. You must clearly define what you want and what you need to see before you start. Mood boards are also about self-discipline because it takes a lot of effort to stick to your initial purpose when you can’t find the needed element for a long time.

It helps you find and develop your style. And if you’re a person who works in the creative industry, that would mean a lot to you. It may teach you about colors and how they work together, textures and how they work together, fonts and their styles and compilations, and different historical and cultural elements, concepts, and ideas and how they work together, etc. If you want to learn more about these topics, check out Supercharge Design

In recent years, mood boards have begun to evolve. Digital mood boards win more and more hearts every day. We already have many options and mood board apps to ease the process. That makes it as enjoyable as possible. Besides, the number of visual and representative possibilities is growing too.

People transfer from classical mood boards to those on their smartphones or laptops due to many reasons. First of all, the amount of trash we produce is terrifying, and if it’s possible to save at least one tree branch, why not? Surely, you can recycle everything later, but giving up on using something is always the best strategy for saving the environment. Then, the part about comfort – you can take your mood board anywhere you want. You can have as many of them as you want. And you’re free to share them with anyone on the internet or via your social media. Also, we believe that it’s a nice addition that you won’t have a callus on your hand after using scissors.

Another great advantage is that you’re not limited to using only pictures you like (also, imagine how hard it is to find photos you like that would suit the initial concept). You may also add audio and video content if that is what inspires you or presents your idea.

When do I need a mood board?

A mood board may become a useful tool for many tasks and cases. Its application would be limited only by your ideas and, sometimes, courage. However, we would like to talk a little more about when you may benefit from creating and using a mood board so that you can understand the whole idea better.

1. To start

The beginning is always the hardest part of whatever you do, especially if you’re not sure what exactly you want to do or reach. Creating a mood board is like conducting research in this case. While you’re looking for the needed material and information, when choosing between different options, you get an understanding of what the whole thing is supposed to be about.

You may create a few mood boards for one idea or project to take a look from different angles. Let each of them be devoted to different elements and features of your project or product. That will help analyze and highlight what is the most important for success and implementation.

2. To map out your idea or project

A journey from when the idea arose till the project is finished may take weeks, months, or even years, depending on the kind of project. No wonder sometimes people can’t understand why their final product is nothing similar to what they planned. It’s easy to miss the initial idea among many tasks if it isn’t clearly defined.

By creating a mood board at the beginning, you establish a strong foundation and get a reminder for later. Whenever you’re hesitant about whether everything goes according to plan, just go to your mood board and see for yourself.

Visual representation of your project might be an inevitable part of its implementation. For example, mapping out a room interior would be impossible without sorting everything out by putting together pictures and references to see how they look. For that purpose, you may use the xTiles House Renovation Template, or you may look for some ideas in our document devoted to home renovation.
House Renovation Template Preview

3. To make cooperation within a team and the onboarding process easier

Even members of a well-coordinated and harmonious team might struggle to understand each other. We’re all different, and that’s totally okay. If you use the right tools, your team will get stronger after each disagreement. A mood board will help you express your idea visually,  leaving minimum space for verbal explanation. That is especially helpful for teams with members from different countries and with different mother tongues.

Also, when someone new launches a team, they might need help to get everything right. Current members understand everything without words, so explaining something to others who so far have no comprehension might be no easy task. After all, what we say depends on our emotions, mood, what person we are, etc. Presenting someone with the visual concept of your project or product and letting them feel it is a much shorter way that excludes bias.

4. To make communication with your client easier

To explain something to a client might be even harder than to newcomers. If you have worked in the marketing industry or have been a freelancer, you probably already know that retrieving the information that will help you do your job might be challenging. The xTiles Brief Template will help you obtain needed information quickly and get it structured. 

However, that still might not be enough. You may create a mood board and present it to your client before you start simply to check whether you’re both on the same page. That will be a small battle for reconnaissance purposes to save time on redoing everything. Also, it will help your client be involved in the process

5. To get inspiration

And, last but not least – inspiration. You need it not only to start but also to keep going if things become tough. However, the situation is a bit more complicated yet beneficial. Mood board creation, if conducted well, is also about organizing your inspiration. You tame a raw, sometimes chaotic, force that might lead you astray. Allowing you to set the needed direction, a mood board gives you the ability to get the maximum out of what inspires you.

How to create a mood board?

As you can see, a mood board is handy for different reasons and helps with different issues. However, there are certain steps you need to take in order to get a board that will work on so many levels. Whether you make it only for yourself or professional purposes, you doubtfully want it to be useless. After all, it’s your time and too precious to waste it on something that doesn’t work.

We have already prepared a ready-to-use mood board template and our example of a mood board. Now, we want to provide you with detailed instructions. We promise the whole process won’t take you much time (besides, you’ve already saved it because there’s no need to go over piles of magazines and play with scissors and glue). In the end, you will have the most powerful, visually appealing, and inspirational mood board ever. Ready?

1. Define for what purpose you need your mood board

This step is more complicated than it might seem. Besides traditional goals like presenting a project at the office, for fun, getting inspiration, etc., you need to understand whether your mood board is a practical representation of a finished idea or about finding the solution or needed direction.

Remember that mood boards are about learning, exploring, and researching. Something goes wrong if they put you into a frame, limiting your ability to express ideas.

Now that you know what your mood board should look like, let’s start creating it. The step many forget about is giving it a name. That’s important if you’ve decided to create a couple of them or if there will be different versions of one. Also, it will be easier to find them in the future, among other documents.

The next step is writing down all of your ideas for the current board. 

how to create ideal mood board

2. Compile needed elements that inspire you

The second part is the most enjoyable because you will need to scroll over your favorite apps for an important purpose this time. However, if you’re active on Instagram and Pinterest, for example, you may already have many elements for your mood board. If now you think that you don’t save or share anything important or that may be useful, you better check your phone anyway. We tend to save or share something we find funny, accurate, or simply nice, and that’s what we need for our mood board – things we like, things that resonate with how we feel.

A good way to take advantage of each thing that might be useful is xTiles Web Clipper. You casually surf the internet and save everything you like straight to your mood board document. Or you can add pictures and photos from your phone to xTiles mobile app, and they will appear in your Quick Notes in your web version.

However, if you need a mood board for work, the process will look slightly different. You need to start by adding all the materials you already have about the company, project, or product. Add logos, website if there’s one, designs, and any other elements of brand ID. Only now can we begin to look for what will bring inspiration and help find the needed direction, idea, solution, etc.

The visual content you choose for your board will have a strong impact on the picture in general, especially if it’s a board for professional needs. However, like with the first step, at this stage, we don’t need to prioritize or divide what is bad and what may be useful. Please, save everything that you consider to be at least a bit useful. That’s easier and quicker than checking your browser history later to find that one picture.

Since this part is mostly about looking for different kinds of content, it might be tiring. You need to keep control over what you’re checking, so the stream of recommendations won’t take you in another direction.

You also may look for video and audio content since online mood boards don’t limit you in any way. You’re free to use anything you like to express yourself and your ideas. For example, if you want your brand to associate with some song or kind of music, add it to your mood board. Let’s say you work on creating a collection of clothes with the 60s vibe. You already add everything you need to show the needed period of time, but somehow the picture looks flat. The compilation of audio and visual elements allows you to create an incredibly full representation.

If the board is for or about your project or brand, also don’t forget to add fonts and colors. They are an important part of any brand identity, and putting them on the board will help you understand whether they suit the needed aesthetic.

3. Turn them into a cohesive picture

mood board grouping

Check how the elements you choose for your mood board work together and do they work together at all. However, given your goals, we don’t always strive for completeness when creating mood boards. The elements may be pretty independent, but with the same idea. xTiles allows you to group your elements easily in a simple command without ruining or interfering with the general idea.

This step might be even more time-consuming than the previous one, especially if the previous one was fruitful and you found a lot of what might be used. You need to thoroughly consider what must be on your board, what might ruin the whole thing, and what might become a final accent.

Start with defining which elements are key (usually, that’s a logo if we talk about work mood boards). They better be placed somewhere easy to see to show their importance. It may be at the top or center. However, you’re free to put them whenever you want and show their role by applying visual tricks like highlighting, color change, putting them as the last layer on top of everything, etc. With an easy drag-and-drop option in our template, you can change the placement of your elements whenever you want and how many times you need.

The significant thing to keep in mind when designing a mood board is that your inspiration shouldn’t be limited by no means. If you have too many ideas, you may make two or three mood boards for one project. Once again, they are a  great tool for exploring and presenting what you got.

Also, in the end, you will see the bigger part of the content you chose previously remained untouched. That’s how it's supposed to be. However, don’t hurry to delete them. You still may need them to add a significant piece to complete the picture.

4. Review the result and make refinements if necessary

Finally, you have a finished mood board. Did it meet your expectations? Does it look just like you wanted it to? You may check the notes you made at the beginning. They will help to see whether you have moved in the needed direction. That’s why we recommend keeping them until the board is finished and reviewed.

If you have time and it wasn’t a last-minute project, put the result aside for a day or two before reviewing it and making changes. When it’s fresh, it might be hard to see if there’s something wrong or what you could make look better.

If it is a mood board for your team’s project, you may show it to someone who knows what it is supposed to look like and be about. Other people’s opinion is important and may help you find the issues you can’t see.

At this stage, you also may prepare a little note or explanation for your team or a client if you’re afraid some parts or aspects of your board might be hard to get or controversial.

Summing up

Somehow, mood boards gained the status of time-spending without any significant purpose or usefulness. However, that’s not true, especially about modern online mood boards. It is a tool that may assist you in many situations. It helps to explore and research, it helps to find links and connections between different ideas, it helps present your ideas visually when words are not enough, it serves you well with different tasks if you’re a visual thinker, it helps to start on a project or a dream, it helps you communicate within a team and with your client, and yes, you will have a lot of fun searching for needed elements and then combining them.

The best thing about mood boards is that despite all that we described in the previous paragraph, they are super easy to create with our only four steps guide and ready-to-go template.

Before xTiles
Constantly switched between two different apps for task management and journaling.
Annoyed that his digital files were all over the place with no clear organization.
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With xTiles
Delighted with his personal task management and journaling template that is customized to fit his needs.
Pleased with how his documents are organized and how quickly he can retrieve any specific file he’s looking for.
Feels focused and organized using only one tool to plan and manage his life.
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