How to Create a Mood Board

How to make a mood board: step-by-step tutorial plus a FREE template.

When I start a branding project with a new client, one of the first things I have them do is create an inspiration board - a collection of images that, for them, evokes the feel and aesthetic they want their brand to have. An inspiration board (also called a mood board) is a valuable starting point for many kinds of projects. Whether you're planning a brand, a blog, or even a wedding, figuring out what kind of "look" you want is key.

To help you get going, I'm offering this free mood board template. There are Photoshop and InDesign files in the .zip so that you can choose whichever program you're more comfortable with. Both include instructions and are usable by CS4 and above. You'll need 10 pictures or patterns to fill up all the blocks in the template; it also offers space for 5 color swatches. The template is a 1:1 square ratio for easy sharing on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media. And it's 100% free for both personal AND commercial use.

How to make your mood board

Start by writing out a list of the top 10 words you want people to associate with your brand. This could be colors (violet, pumpkin, chartreuse) or styles (elegant, whimsical, bohemian) or emotions (excitement, comfort, nostalgia). Don't forget to include words that represent the purpose of the project, like "photography" or "winter wedding" or "small business."

Next, head on over to Google image search and pop in one of your 10 keywords. Browse through two or three pages of results. Save any images that you find particularly evocative or inspiring. Don't worry just yet about whether they all go together; just collect them in a folder on your desktop where you can come back to them later.

Once you've done that with each of your 10 keywords, try combining your keywords and searching for phrases. Don't worry if they don't make sense! It genuinely doesn't matter. Try searching for "purple excitement" and simply see if anything interesting comes up. Save any of these that you like, too.

Now it's time to go back to your folder full of images. Look through everything you've saved. Identify trends in your imagery. Pick out the top 10 pictures that you think best encapsulate those 10 keywords you started out with, and plug those photos into the frames of your template.

When your images are settled in place it's easy to use the Eyedropper tool to sample colors from your pictures. Pick out five colors that you think go well together and fill up each of those color swatch frames with one color.

Save your creation as a separate file (be careful not to save over your template document - you can reuse that template as many times as you'd like!) and it's ready to go. Share it on social media, make it your desktop background, or print it out and pin it to your cork board while you work on creating a beautiful style!

Mood board example: bold purples and vibrant greens.

Never seen a mood board before? Check out these search results on Pinterest to get a sense of what they look like. Collecting your images & colors in one spot is the best way to keep track of the style you want to establish.

If you like the free board template but need more variety, you can grab a 5-pack of templates in my Etsy store for $5.

I'd love to see what you create with this template. Leave a picture or link in the comments and share your story!