Let’s talk about how to build a moodboard. Spoiler alert: there’s really no correct way. The point of a moodboard is to a) collect and understand your inspiration and b) help create unity for the visuals you’re about to create.
So, let’s get started.
1. Gather Inspiration // Pinterest
First, log in to Pinterest. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for free! Once you have an account, go to your main Pinterest area, aka the homepage (psst…click “home” at the top of the screen).
Next, start pinning things that catch your eye. Try not to overthink it, just be authentic to what seems interesting to you right now and be okay with the fact that you won’t always use all of them. Some of the different things that I like won’t really make it into the final design and it won’t feel that important, but I still save something if I think it’s cool.
If you do not have a board created, you don’t have to necessarily make that first. When you find your first pin you want to keep, click save, then hit “Create Board.” You can name your board whatever you’d like. Try “Moodboard” to start, if you can’t think of anything at first.
Continue to scroll through whatever is on your homepage, which really varies depending on what Pinterest is feeding you as promotional pins. Make sure you’re just being true to the things that seem visually interesting.
Side note: if you’re starting to dislike the things you’re seeing on your homepage, or if your usual search history isn’t very design-focused, you might not be receiving designerly pins. No problem! Simply type in something along the lines of “colorful graphic design” in your search bar. Now you’re going to see a ton of things that Pinterest thinks is relevant to your search.
Scroll through it, see what catches your eye. Make sure that you’re getting a variety of things. Don’t just only pin photos or only pin logos. Get a lot of different variety in there and make sure that you’re giving yourself the ability to see expanded design work in a lot of different areas.
Also, make sure you aren’t too critical on yourself. Don’t give yourself too many rules!
You don’t necessarily have to have a vision for what you’re going to be making later, but if something seems like a really nice color palette or if the design seems unique, you may want to pull inspiration from it later.
2. Combine Your Ideas // Pixlr
You don’t want to stay in Pinterest for too long, because the way that it displays your pins isn’t super helpful. So whether I’m designing for myself or a client, I take it into Pixlr. Pixlr Express allows you to create a really cohesive nine-square grid to take your inspiration off Pinterest and into something that’s a little bit more curated. While a lot of designers create grids and moodboards within Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, I find that Pixlr is so easy because I can literally just click the plus button and load any type of image.
Scroll down to the bottom of Pixlr and choose the nine-square grid. Then, try to narrow down your current Pinterest board into nine screenshots. Pick your favorites!
If you’re on a Mac, hold down Command-Shift-4, and you’ll be able to grab any image you want, versus taking a screenshot of the whole window. Next, load your screenshots from wherever you saved them on your computer.
As you get everything off your Pinterest board, you might start seeing things that feel a little off. That’s a good thing! You can keep them off your board and use another pin you feel comfortable with.
While loading in your screenshots, try to get a crop of your different designs so that you’re not too distracted by the actual design work. You don’t want to copy someone. l like my board to be very balanced, so make it feel like there’s breathing room.
Once you’re finished, click finish, then save.
3. Analyze Your Moodboard
Once your board is saved, open it up as a JPEG. Make your design full screen, so you aren’t distracted by anything else on your desktop. Now you’re ready to analyze your board.
Are you using a lot of Sans-serif fonts? Are there pops of pink contrasted with green? Maybe you notice there’s barely any blue. Look for consistencies that you can carry throughout your design.
Without even vocalizing or consciously deciding what’s interesting to you, you’ll be able to start seeing things that carry through within each pin or the things that you decide to use as influence. Now you’re ready to design!
Overall, moodboarding is easier than it looks! Plus, it’s really fun. Remember to take it easy on yourself and trust the process—moodboarding is a lot of going with your gut, then analyzing it later.
Have any questions? Leave a comment below!