Want a boost in creativity? Consider creating a mood board for your creative projects to save the things that inspire you. If you don’t know what a mood board is, think of it as a kind of template, the blank slate on which you visualize your ideas. Mood boards can take many forms – from a digital collage to a real-life bulletin board on which you save whatever gets you in the mood to be creative. The visualization is important, since it’s not always easy to express an idea with words.

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What Do You See on a Mood Board?

In order to capture the right “mood” of a project, the board typically includes images related to your project. Let’s say for instance that an author is planning to write a book about a plane trip that ended with the heroine inexplicably waking up in a golden field alongside an empty plane. The mood board could include images of a woman boarding a plane and standing in a wheat field. Since mood boards often include colors, this could inspire the use of the colors sky blue, white, gold and brown. Every image, texture or color that achieves mental stimulation with regard to a project should be included.

Where to Get Resources

Because mood boards are made of images, textures and colors that inspire you, there are hundreds of places on and offline to find resources. If you’re fond of taking photos, than your potential sources become nearly infinite. For simplicity sake, consider places you’re most likely to find the kind of high quality images you’re looking for.

One popular website for this is Pinterest, but you should also consider a Creative Commons search. Niice is an awesome tool for laying out your mood board, though you could also use Pinterest or even print images out. If you want to gather your own sources from your real life surroundings, be sure to stick to relevant images and textures!

Selecting Images and Colors

You’ve gathered everything you’d like to see on the mood board. Now what? First, go through all the images you’ve gathered. If you’ve managed to pick out 50 images for a mood board that will only allow for 15, it’s time to pick your favorites. Remember that a mood board isn’t a collection of random images; they must all come together to offer inspiration on a specific project.

This doesn’t mean that images must be exactly alike. Remember the earlier example? Boarding an airplane and standing in a field are two separate images, and yet because they relate to the same story, they work together to promote a similar mood. Use only those images that are relevant and with which you feel a genuine emotional connection. As for colors, try not to use the entire rainbow; stick to just those colors that remind you of your project.

Laying Out Your Mood Board

You may not be using words, but your mood board still needs to say something important. Anyone who looks at your mood board and hears what project it’s meant to relate to should experience an “Aha!” rather than a “Huh?” A board may be somewhat chaotic or feature solemnly arranged squares and rectangles. What’s most important is that you capture the essence of what you need to say. There is no right or wrong way to arrange your images!

Where to Create Your Mood Board

A popular choice for mood board creation is Photoshop. If you’d rather not pay out cash to use it, there are free image editing tools around, such as the in-browser Pixlr. Betty Red Design is a great source for templates. When your creative energies are scattered, a mood board may be just the right tool for bringing everything into focus. It may take a few hours or even a few days to get it right, but if you make a concentrated effort you won’t be sorry.

Photo: Natasha Mileshina

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