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How to Create Great Mood Boards

A+C Dec 14, 2022 Scroll to read in 4 minutes

Let's Talk About Feelings

Creating mood boards is an essential component of any creative project. Whether you're working on a brilliantly executed stop-motion ad with A+C or a brand refresh, it's a means of compiling a visual map that offers directions for the creative road ahead. You want those directions to be good, so here are some vital tips to help you create an inspiring and helpful mood board.

Mood boards may be visually driven — they are meant to inspire the aesthetic of whatever you're working on. However, they're called "mood" boards for a reason. Your boards should capture something of the feeling you want your project to have, not just a look.

When grabbing inspiration, it's vital to operate on emotional instinct during the idea-gathering stage. Assess materials for what feels right. Be sure to consider the feelings of an eventual audience, too. A big part of developing a compelling aesthetic is recognising that the audience won't be someone you know.

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Mood boards serve a practical purpose as well. They can be a vital pre-production tool to drive the entire look of your project. Because of that, your boards should have a degree of finality to become not just a guide but an unchanging reference during production.

Another practical purpose is that mood boards can help secure project funding during pre-production. By giving them a degree of locked-in vision, potential investors know precisely your intention and won't be surprised (or upset) by a result that wasn't outlined. If you're not a wordsmith, remember a picture is worth a thousand words, and visuals can embody an idea better than trying to describe that idea in words.

Make Several Boards

Large productions often dedicate several mood boards to project elements, such as theme, set design, costumes, lighting, and cinematography. It's a model worth following for any project. For example, if you're working on an animated advert for your brand, you can create separate mood boards focused on style, characters and sets. There's an organisational benefit to this approach, too. If you create categories in advance, you can file imagery neatly as you go along.

Consider answering some questions in advance so you can build effective boards; for example, Is this visuals only? How long should it be? Tone? Colour palette? Specific characters? Character modification? Also, consider specifics regarding the audience and how the boards will be presented. Will it be given to department heads? Will it be printed or digital? Answering these questions will help influence how many and what type of mood boards you need.


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Go Beyond Google

With the internet's easy access to endless images, there's little need to search beyond Google for mood board material. But be sure to search offline too. Watch lots of films and TV shows. Take pictures of anything you think might be helpful.

Consider going to your local library and browsing old magazines or going to an art gallery or museum. If you are sticking solely to Google, brush up on some aesthetic terms to help guide your board. Fandom Aesethics Wiki is the best collection of aesthetic terminology that might hit the spot for your project. The awareness of the Lobotomy-Chic aesthetic could perfectly encapsulate your next project.

Where to Make Your Board

There are platforms like Pinterest and programs like Canva, StudioBinder, and others specifically designed to facilitate mood boarding, such as:

Milanote A browser-based and easy-to-use tool to organise all your ideas.

MURAL offers easy and user-friendly way for creative teams to think, imagine and discuss their design ideas. It'll cost you $12/month, but there's a free trial available if you don't want to commit just yet.

The Matboard specifically targets creatives as an alternative to the more mainstream Pinterest.

There is no right or wrong platform, but give it some thought (or free trials), so you don't waste time going down one path and find you don't like it.

It can also be as straightforward as manually collecting images and compiling them into a Word or Powerpoint document. Not the sexiest option, but it gets the job done!

Now, explore!

Some colour palette inspiration
colorpalette.cinema
Coolors.co
Pppalette