Often, in the early stages of developing an idea, whether it be for a photoshoot, a clothing line, a beauty brand or something else, it can be hard to know where to start.

Mood boards are a great way to begin to form your ideas without writing a fully developed description. 

Here are some ways to use mood boarding to bring your ideas to life. 

Brainstorm your concept

A great brainstorm comes with keywords. Think about the words that can identify your proposal for example: feminine, soft, neutral, fancy or other words that can express your idea. This can be a great point to start selecting your images, text, and elements and also to sell your ideas just in a few words. 

Moodboard Inspiration

Consider your colour palette

A great way to synergise your mood board is with a colour palette of between 3-5 colours. What are they tonally? Are they bright or neutral?

We like to use the app Pantone to discover inspiration.  You can even upload your own image (or one from the web) and it will tell you what colours are featured in it! 
Then, once you have your colour palette, you can bring it into your mood board through imagery, text, elements such as shapes/swatches, textures, the opportunities are endless!

Colour Palette

Create multiple mood boards for different elements

When planning a photoshoot, we like to create a number of mood boards for different elements of the shoot, such as:

  • Styling
  • Hair and Makeup
  • Photography Style 
  • Model Poses
  • Potential Casting
  • Location

In doing so, it allows you to think in depth about each aspect and differentiate them. For example, you may want slick, bold hair and makeup but softer, neutral styling.

Not only is this important for you, but it’s important for your team. It’s a visual reference for them, which is a lot better than verbal. You may say you want a smokey eye, but there’s a big difference between a soft, bridal smokey eye and a blackout one!

Creating these various mood boards also allows you to view them all next to each other and see how they work together to create a cohesive look. Many creatives like to pin their mood boards up on the wall at the beginning of a shoot so all of their team can see the overall references too, so doing this communicates your vision as clearly as possible.

Mood board


Source your inspiration from a variety of platforms:

If you’re planning a fashion range, don’t limit yourself to only sourcing inspiration from fashion imagery. Think about texture, films, paintings and other resources that may evoke the feeling you’re trying to create. 
Jim Jarmusch, a famous film director has a great quote regarding finding inspiration: 

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

So don’t be afraid to add as much as you need to fill your imagination, then you can filter all this reference and start thinking in other stages of the mood board. 

students at computer

Consider Texture

Texture can always add sensations to your image.

If you’re shooting for your portfolio as a makeup artist and are imagining a glossy, glowy look, how can you apply that texture to your mood board aesthetic? Based on that example, when I think of the prompt, I immediately picture shine. I would imagine silk or satin textures reflecting in the sunlight. Or if you are a fashion designer creating a mood board for your next collection and want to go for a sultry, feminine vibe, you can not only bring this in with fabrics and texture, but also into your makeup and hair mood boards.

Try to apply this to your own mood boards. What textures would you see? Concrete, wood, bricks… you name it!

Now it’s time to create! You can create your mood boards by hand with scissors and magazines using a collage technique, however another easy way to do this in the digital era is with online apps.

Want to find out what the best apps are to create your mood boards? Click here!