What is a Moodboard and How to Create One

If you have ever found it difficult to express something with words which could easily be expressed with imagery – enter moodboards.

What is a moodboard?

A moodboard is a collection of images that together form a certain look & feel and evoke a particular style. Mood boards are used across the creative industry to better convey an idea and get the entire team on the same page about the look that they’re using as guidelines. 

Examples of mood boards in the creative industry:

  • Photographers have a vision in their mind and need hair stylists, fashion stylists, make-up artists and models to understand their idea
  • Creative directors need to brief illustrators, graphic designers and photographers on their vision for a campaign or editorial
  • Graphic designers are working with illustrators and animators to help add some illustrations and motion to make their designs more fun. 

Humans are visual creatures and some things are far easier to explain with visuals than with imagery, which is what makes moodboards a powerful tool. 

How Moodboards Can Help You

No matter if you are a one-man-band just launching a startup or you’re working with a team, moodboarding can help you express your ideas more easily.

We at Chapter use them to involve clients from the beginning of our design journey together. That way, they can get a sense of what we are trying to achieve with the design or content before the designing process actually begins. This means we are saving the client’s time and money on any amends later on.

If you are working with an internal team, creating mood boards will make sure everyone is aligned with the same vision.

Moodboards will help you:

  • Agree on the aesthetics of the project (colours, photography, illustration, fonts etc.)
  • Connect words with visuals 
  • Have a coherent reference point for all visuals
  • Ensure the project is headed in the right direction
  • Make sure the images evoke certain emotions

Examples of Moodboards

Let’s take a look at two different ‘’moods’’ (there is a reason why there’s a mood in moodboard!) and how they can make you feel contrasting emotions. If you are at a loss of mood board ideas, these ones can inspire your thought process.

We collated this moodboard as inspiration for MOFT, our favourite phone and laptop stand. What we were aiming for was a fun, upbeat style that would look great in print. Being eco-conscious means creating printed materials that will, in the words of Marie Kondo, spark joy in MOFT customers.

This example was for an old client of ours whose invites had to convey a premium look. We were very inspired by the sophisticated gold tones and a lot of negative space on these visuals. What a delight to receive them! 

Free Moodboard Apps and Tools Online

If you want to make a moodboard, you are in luck. There are many mood board creator apps online and each comes with its positive and negative sides. Which one you will go for depends on your budget and your specific needs. 

Maybe you need to be able to add video content or maybe choosing the right mood board template is your top priority. From social media to design, there is always an app that will be your perfect fit.

Crello

Crello is a great free tool if you don’t need to create more than 5 moodboards per month, as that would require a paid subscription. That should be enough to cover the needs of small business owners who can easily create nice-looking boards to present to their team.

Pro: Easy to use, supports video formats and exports them in MP4, a lot of templates to choose from
Con: Limited downloads for free users, collaboration option is only available in the paid version

Miro

There are a couple of different pricing options for Miro (Free, Team, Business and Enterprise). With the free version you can have unlimited team members and do the following:

  • 3 editable boards
  • Anonymous board viewers
  • Premade templates
  • Core integrations
  • Basic attention management

This also comes with the ability to collaborate in real-time and basic board exports. Not bad to cover the needs of a small business!

Pro: Integrations including Google Drive, Slack, and more.
Cons: Limited number of boards, no external editors

Milanote

Marketed as a note-taking app, Milanote lets you also create moodboards. Besides the free version, it comes as a 1-person subscription (9.99 USD per month) and as a team subscription (49 or 99 USD per month, depending on team size).

The free version is going to allow you to have:

  • 100 notes, images or links
  • 10 file uploads
  • Unlimited shared boards

Pro: Sticky notes, to-do lists, commenting and real-life collaboration, exporting in many formats (PDF, PNG, Word, Markdown)
Cons: Expensive, no video options, no integrations

Canva

A classic in the free tools space, Canva is still a good deal for many small businesses. With plenty of templates and easy drag-and-drop options, Canva makes moodboarding easy. Apart from the free version, there are two paid subscription options available: Pro and Enterprise (each are priced differently based on the team size). The important bit is: the free option allows you to invite members to the team and collaborate in real life.

Pro: 250k+ free templates, a library of photos and graphics, 5GB of cloud storage, video support
Cons: Expensive paid versions

Mural

(not free, but worthy of being included!)
Mural prides itself on increasing Microsoft’s ROI by 495% by scaling design thinking across the whole organisation. Indeed, it is a powerful tool. Its features range from adding sticky notes and text, to GIFs, drawings and frameworks to facilitate teams working together.

Pro: A lot of features, commenting on moodboards
Cons: No free option

How to Create a Moodboard: Get Inspired

The hardest part is getting started. How do you get inspired when those creative juices are just not flowing?

And how can you look outside of the box?

Looking outside of the industry you’re in will expand your understanding of what else is on the market. It is easy to keep your eyes peeled at other companies and products in the industry and forget about the rest. Getting an insight into other industries can help you understand what elements you can use in your own business, which will help you differentiate from the competition.

If you are struggling with a lack of inspiration, do a bit of brainstorming with our Creative Mood Board Ideas Prompts then start searching online starting with words that surround your answers. For example, if your answer is ‘a vase’, search its colours, patterns, brand, website, store it came from, and beyond.

Creative Mood Board Ideas Prompts:

  • Think of the last time you bought something that wasn’t on your shopping list. Take a look at the packaging – was there something about it that caught your eye?
  • What was a gift you have received and absolutely loved? Think about its features – what exactly is it that you love about it? Try being as specific as possible, like ‘’the soft yellow colour of the wool jumper’’.
  • What ad or campaign have you recently seen that stuck in your memory? What about it made it memorable?
  • Look around you: what objects do you have at home that you like? Why have you decided to surround yourself with them, how do they make you feel? For example, a nice vase can make you feel a sense of serenity and joy once you fill it up with your favourite flowers.

These resources should provide you with a solid foundation to start creating moodboards and bring your whole team together. If you want to learn more about digital marketing, tools for social media managers or how we work at Chapter – we’ve got you covered. 

If you are finding all of this a bit too much, get in touch with us today for a no-strings-attached chat.