Clarify Your Design Vision Using Mood Boards


So you've got a couple of ideas in mind for your next collection. You’re thinking vibrant geos! The next day, abstract florals… But what about romantic boho??

Your ideas are becoming distant and you’re confused about where the project is going…

How do you find clarity and narrow down your vision?

Mood Boards!

Vision Boards, Inspiration Boards- whatever you’d like to call them, these are not just a group of pretty pictures but the anchor to your design brief and project.

Using mood boards in your business, helps avoid confusion and constant change of mind during a project and results in a much stronger design outcome. Put it up in your studio for a constant reference. Share it with others on your team or designers you work with so that you're all on the same page.

In this post, I’ll take you through the creative process of putting together a mood board that you can use to establish your over all brand style, your new collection story, photoshoot aesthetic or art direction for other creative projects. I’ve also prepared a free mood board template and brief for you to download at the end of the post!

How to Create a Mood Board:

1. Start from the heart

Before getting stuck into researching visuals, it’s important to define 3 - 5 key words that describe the look or vibe you’re going for. These words lay down the foundations for the style of images you’ll be searching for. Different words evoke different feelings and therefore different visual direction. For example ‘luxe, resort, soft & feminine’ compared to ‘athletic, vibrant, adventurous, & bold’ will create a very different picture and aesthetic in your mind. 

A great way to get going is to think of words that you’d like your ideal customer to use to describe your brand or products. 

You’ll find that having these words in mind will save you time as you're scrolling through images because you've set yourself boundaries as to what types of images to select.

2. Pinterest is your best friend!

Pinterest is an amazing tool for collecting and curating images. Once you’ve set up an account, all you need to do is start creating ‘Pinterest Boards’ relating to your theme or topic to ‘pin’ images to. 

Start by searching images related to your brand style, product or aesthetic. Keep your 3 -5 key words in mind as you select images to pin.

Search your favourite brand’s or designer’s accounts to re pin their images. 

You can also pin off other websites or even Insta profiles by installing the ‘pin it button’ to your browser.

Give yourself a timeframe and image limit of about 20 to 30 image. You’ll be narrowing these down in the nest step.

One of THE DESIGN PARLOUR’S Pinterest Boards

One of THE DESIGN PARLOUR’S Pinterest Boards

3. Sort and Curate

Once you feel you have a nice amount of images pinned, it’s time to asses them and narrow down your selection to just a few that paint a solid picture of your vision.

Look at the themes and colours that the majority of your images display. I usually save to a folder on my computer, the images that I feel strongly reflect the common theme, my key words and that have a consistent colour range.

Select no more than 8-10 images. Having too many images can cause confusion in your direction and make it tempting to veer off the key theme.

As a guide I usually select 1-2 images in the following categories;

  • Fashion lifestyle

  • Fabric or texture

  • Typography

  • Nature

  • Print and Pattern

Mood Board Created for Spiilt Milk Brand Direction

Mood Board Created for Spiilt Milk Brand Direction

4. Putting it all together 

Now that you’ve selected your images, it’s time to get creative and put them into a layout! I use Adobe Illustrator or InDesign but you can use whatever tool you’re comfortable with, as long as your board represents and translates your vision clearly. A user friendly tool you might like to try is Canva or download my free template at the end of the post.

Spend some time arranging your images and selecting what looks good next to each other. I like to crop images in interesting ways and zoom in on textures or fabrics. It makes quite the difference to the overall feel of your layout.

You can choose to create a collage or overlapping layout or I prefer to use clean boarders as I feel it’s easier to translate ideas to my clients this way. I also like to add in subtle backgrounds to tie the images together and to give a complete look to my chosen theme.

5. Create your colour palette

From your chosen images you should be able to identify a consistent colour palette. I like to extract these colours and place them in a separate section of the mood board, although you may choose to display/ lay these out differently. I find it’s best to stick to around 4 - 6 colours.

You may also choose to match your colours with specific Pantone codes for use in your product collection. 

Mood Board Created for Sundae Muse Brand Direction

Mood Board Created for Sundae Muse Brand Direction

If you follow these five simple steps, you should have a concise mood board that represents clear visual direction! Remember to refer back to it often to ensure you’re staying on brief and to help you make design decisions along the way! 

As promised, here is your free mood board template to help streamline the process for you! I’d love to see what you create!

Click below to download!