How to Make a Mood Board to Use in Your Creative Practice

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Today I wanted to share a little bit about how to make a mood board – and some tips for ways you can use mood boards for your creative practice!

While mood boards certainly aren’t anything new, it’s a fun creative practice that can be used in a number of different ways – even if you *aren’t* a professional artist or designer.

If the thought of learning how to make mood board seems complicated, I want to assure you not only can it be easy to create – it can be a LOT of fun to do!

What is a Mood Board?

giraffe intuition mood board

A mood board, sometimes also spelled as all one word like moodboard – is defined as this:

mood board, noun: an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

Mood boards are generally believed to follow one central concept or theme, but since they pertain to portraying a feeling {hence the name “mood”} – there really are no limits on what types of materials you might include!

Most mood boards are a visual collection of different images and phrases – but you can also expand it to include color palettes, fabric, textures and even small objects you find from around the house!

One could argue many collages could be classified as mood boards – although that is not the case for everything.

Why Should You Use Mood Boards in Your Creative Practice?

There are many benefits to using a mood board for creative inspiration. While many professionals such as interior designers and branding consultants use mood boards to convey styles to their clients, you do not need to necessarily have a specific project in mind to create a mood board!

Reason #1: Focus on a Theme for Personal Development

I often like to create mood boards to help me remember what goals or central themes I’m focusing on in my life. Mood boards can be a great visual aide for personal, creative and spiritual development!

For example, here is a mood board I created for March 2018 that focuses on some of the things I’m thinking about. march 2018 moodboard

Each image and saying on this mood board reflects the central theme I want to focus on for the month of March. From making time to relax with a cup of my favorite tea to going on walks to discover the new sights of spring, there is a lot to drawn inspiration from here!

The quotes “I am lucky to have you” and “a good laugh is sunshine in the house” are good reminders to be grateful for the people in my life right now.


Reason #2: Discover New Color Combinations

The other advantage of mood boards? They let you play with many different color combinations! For example, just from the mood board above, I can find 3 whole new color palettes to play with in my art journals! color combo mood board

I created my digital mood board in Photoshop by using pictures from public domain and stock photo websites – but you do not need to necessarily need to do it this way! I’ll share some more resources on this below towards the end of this post.


Reason #3: Organize and Plan

I don’t always create digital mood boards. There is much to be said about the creative process of using images cut out from old books and magazines!

Here is an older mood board page I created in my journal mood board journal page

While some might argue this looks like your typical smash-up in a junk journal, there are some very specific themes – in this case – reading and books!

At the time, I was preparing for a journal-making workshop I was teaching at one of our local libraries for their adult summer reading program on creating a reading journal.

Making a mood board like this helped me sort through and process all those ideas swirling through my head!

I loved the concept of the people with their fingers up to their mouths with the shush signal to be quiet – that was very much a central theme to the journals. A journal is your place to be loud and bold!

This page also gave me some ideas for types of inexpensive materials we could use in creating the books, so that we would be able to offer the workshop for free.

We used the text pages from several outdated and out of circulation library books that were headed for recycling – and even a few junk mail envelopes!

It was a super fun event – and I know creating a mood board helped set the tone – not to mention greatly helped in planning and organizing all the ideas I was trying to process!

You could use a mood board to plan almost any type of event or project – whether for the everyday in your monthly planner, for organizing projects at home and work, or even special occasions like parties and celebrations!


Ready to Create Your Own Mood Board? Great! Here’s How to Get Started

Now that we’ve gone over all the ways I love to use mood boards, let’s talk about some ways to create your own mood board!

Here’s How to Make a Mood Board on Paper:

Step 1: Choose a canvas!

This can be a page {or more!} in your journal, or if your mood board is something you would like to keep on display, you can use poster board, card stock, canvas panels, or even a cork board with push pins.

We have far too curious of cats to rely on a cork board with push pins, but I so very much love the idea! Stepping on push pins the cats knock down…not so much, lol.

 Step 2: Choose a Theme or Concept 

Having a central theme or concept is not always a requirement, but I do think it can help narrow down the overwhelm when you go to assemble your images together as a collection.

The theme can be broad {ie: My Goals This Month} – or it can be specific {ie: Beach/Travel/Vacation Plans}. If you find yourself stuck on this, don’t overthink it – simply move to the next step – more than likely a concept or theme will begin to present itself as you go through magazines and images that catch your attention.

Sometimes the universe conspires like that to give you the message you don’t even know you might need!

Step 3: Gather Your Images:

There really are no wrong ways to gather images. I like to go through magazines and cut and tear out pictures, colors, and patterns – as well as headlines, quotes, and phrases.

If manually cutting out images from stacks of magazines is not your cup of tea, or if you aren’t finding images that match your theme, you can also always print images you like from public domain image sites such as Pixabay.com and others.

Step 4: Assemble the Collection: mood board collage supplies

Once you have a nice selection of images and text, you’re ready to collage! I like to start with the biggest images first – that way I know they will always fit. Then I move onto the medium sized images, and then the smallest images and text phrases last.

There is no wrong way to do this, and you can always play around with different arrangements before gluing them down!

I usually do this with a simple glue stick – while I love other collage mediums, they can sometimes cause fragile magazine pages to wrinkle. You can always do a light top coat when finished with matte gel medium later if the magazine images are too glossy.

Step 5: Allow to Dry and Use as Inspiration!

Be sure all glue is dry before you close the pages in your journal – you don’t want them to stick together!

You can do this with a heat gun, or simply allow to dry overnight. Now you can go back to your moodboard anytime you need a creative lift or new dose of inspiration!


Want to Go Digital? No Special Software Required!

While I love using Photoshop to create digital mood boards, you don’t even necessarily need any type of design skills or special software to create one digitally!

If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can easily download collage maker apps that allow you to quickly create beautiful collages either from your own images or freely available stock images on the web.

Adobe Spark is just one example – you can also try Canva and many others. I swear new ones keep coming out each and every day!

On your laptop or desktop, you can also create a photo collage simply using your word processing document software. Insert and arrange the images as you like and voila! Easy peasy collage without having to learn a whole new software program.

If you do use Photoshop, there are many mood board Photoshop templates available that can help you create a collage quickly and easily – simply place your images and clip to the background squares.

Here’s a video from Scrapvine that shares a little bit about how to use templates for a moodboard collage.


Mood Boards are Fun! You Should Make One Today!

While I’ve been creating mood boards on and off many times over the years, I’ve really forgotten how much I love them!

One new habit I hope to start is to create at least one new mood board a month – whether digitally or inside the pages of my journals. I’ll be sure to share any that I create!

And if you create a mood board for inspiration, I would LOVE to see it! Join our Facebook Community to share your work and connect with others for endless inspiration!

Have any questions about how you can get started with creating a mood board? Comments and questions are always welcome in the section below!

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