How to create a moodboard for your project (even without Illustrator!) - part 1

Since I was a kid, I have always loved being in environments with the right "feel".

It has always crazily thrilled me when a place is able to fully immerse me into the mood it tries to evoke. I love visiting old historical homes and castles with preserved original interiors, for instance, because I can almost taste how life developed in the rooms. And I am sure many of you love having a coffee in a well curated, themed café where each detail is thought through and added to re-create the right vibe.

As a brand designer, creating moodboards for my clients is what I enjoy the most. Interestingly, I have noticed that also my clients love having their moodboards ready, possibly even more than their logos! I think this is because a moodboard is able to translate into visual what one has in mind for a brand or a project. Suddenly, what you have been dreaming of seems an achievable reality and it is there - right in front of your eyes!

"Tropical Minimalism" moodboard

"Tropical Minimalism" moodboard

Of course, a moodboard alone won´t make a brand (nor a project) - but it surely gives it the right initial kick. Most importantly, it will provide the visual focus needed in order to achieve your goal. Focus is key here, because in any creative project there will be moments when your mind will want to diverge and follow the new ideas popping up like mushrooms in your head. This risks becoming a significant waste of time and it may even water down the goal you had first set for your project. I am sure you know exactly how this goes and how de-motivating the effects are. Hence, a moodboard is a useful tool to keep you on the right track.

Just to clarify what we are talking about, moodboards are sort of collages that can be made with photos, text, materials. They are centred on a topic and meant to create the "mood" or vibe you are looking for on the topic. Typically, the images are accompanied by a colour palette, but this is not always the case. A moodboard can be created physically - by pulling all the inspirational material together onto a board - or digitally.

Here are some examples of digital moodboards I created some time ago. One is on the concept of "Tropical Minimalism". This is a mooboard that could be used to style a logo for a brand selling stylish minimalist swimwear. Or it could help style the interiors for a tropical-chic café. You could even use it to set up your table for your Tropical themed cocktail party! How you would go is to pick items according to the colour palette and in the style presented (clean and minimal) and then prepare your table by taking inspiration by the photos. For instance, you may buy a Bird´s Paradise plant to decorate your dining room and get a pineapple to use as centrepiece on your table. Your may prepare some light blu cocktails and add a slice of lime on the glass. Then you may go for clean, white plates (for the minimalist part) and get yellow napkins and straws, plus ask your guests to wear a white blouse and their stylish shades for the party. And so on - you get the point!

"Carried Away" moodboard

"Carried Away" moodboard

The moodboard on the right, instead, is titled "Carried Away". As you see, this has a completely different vibe. It evokes a moody atmosphere, maybe of an old house by a stream or a lake. It could be the starting point for designing the cover of a novel. It could inspire the packaging of a vintage calligraphy pen business. Or it could guide the styling of your 1930s inspired reading corner.

As you have seen, moodboards can be used for a great variety of projects and not necessarily be linked to design work.

The tool is easy yet so useful,  so I am glad to be sharing in the next blog posts some tips on how to make your own moodboard - even if you do not use Illustrator or Photoshop! 

If you need a moodboard for your business or your project, and would rather get help to create one, you can check my Moodboard Creation and Style Brainstorming service. 

If you want to opt for the DIY road, you can very well get ready for the next blog post.

Part 2 of this Moodboard Series will show you a step-by-step guide on how to create your moodboard and palette without Illustrator or Photoshop. For this, you will need Canvas´ Moodboard tool (available for Desktop), a website to get inspirational images from (I recommend Unsplash) and a color picking app (like Pixel Picker or similar). If you wish to collect all of your photos in one place and then sort them out later, you can create a board on Pinterest - and maybe you can start right now!