Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mood Boards

Mood boards can be a very useful tool. They can help keep you on track along with communicating to your ideas with event planner (or anyone helping you with a project). This way everyone involved is working toward the same colors, same style, same look...same goal. 

You will need: 

  • Magazines 
  • Scissors 
  • Poster board, matte board, cardboard, etc. 
  • Items such as fabrics that can be glued to poster board 

I would like for you to first think of a mood board just as you would a cluster diagram from your creative writing classes. Remember this guy? 

Ok. A mood board is the visual person’s cluster diagram. You say, “well I’m just not a visual person, why would I want/need to make a mood board?” Odds are if you are planning your wedding, throwing an event/party/dinner, decorating a room, making a garment (or hiring someone to make a garment), arranging an outfit, or putting foresight into any project that will involve visual attractiveness you will deal with someone who is a visual person that can help you tremendously if you can just communicate what is is you are trying to achieve. 

Where do I begin? There are many effective ways to arrange a mood board. Most important, what is your main theme, your goal, the word that you would place in the center circle, the reason you are making a mood board? When I began planning my wedding I made a wedding ceremony mood board and a wedding reception mood board. My point is, I wanted two different feelings between the ceremony and the reception. You need to attain a fairly well defined end result in your mind before you go scissor crazy. 

Next, what are some of the really important pieces, but not the grand theme? If we are talking weddings you may want to note your flowers, colors, fabric from your dress, or maybe a piece of heirloom jewelry. What if we were redecorating a bedroom? Maybe you are making a nursery for a new member of the family. We might want to highlight the secondary pieces such as the design on the bedding or an occasional chair. 

Now that you know what you are looking for pull out those old magazines and get to chopping...well, cutting neatly about an eighth of an inch around each picture really looks the best and makes the image pop. You are not looking to find your exact dress or your exact bedding in a magazine swipe. You want to look for something that has the same texture, color, style, basically gives you the same feeling as the object you possess without being that object. Why? Because you are not looking to create a cling board of the pieces you already have, you want to take the feeling, the emotion of your pieces and generate something beyond what you already own. Let me back-track and say there is nothing wrong with using a piece or two of the exact element, for instance, a fabric swatch or a picture of the flowers. Just limit those pieces. One of my favorite teachers told me, “You never want to use clothing as your inspiration to design clothing.” It makes a lot of sense, really. Think how limiting that would be. 

You should have some pieces cut from magazines, maybe some fabric or some photos by now. Begin to scatter them over your poster board. Your poster board can be any size...if you need something portable, say to fit in a folder, cut your board accordingly; or make a large board, photocopy it and shrink it to a manageable size. As you begin to navigate your images over the page notice the angles, curves, colors, size and textures of your pieces. You want to make a board that is easy to follow, and if it is not visually pieced together well, it will become a distracting mess. 

*Note: when planning fashion collections I have placed a variety of fabrics and textures on my scanner, scanned them and used the scan as a piece of my mood board. Another idea is to group some found objects (as you see I did in the first picture) and photograph them. Use the photograph as one of your swipes. If you are Photoshop savvy you can use it to do the whole mood board. 

As you can see from the pictures above, I have taken a very whimsical picture I embellished and superimposed it into a fun, but less whimsical scene. 

This is the mood board I made for my wedding reception. It is not the best, but good enough for me to teach from. It gives a feeling. On first look you understand this is probably an evening event, it is classy, but the interjection of the intensely warm colors you determine that it is something fun and exciting, the couple and the rings help signify that it is likely something to do with a wedding or an anniversary, and most everything else is filler. 

Observe the angles and curves on the board. For example, pay attention to the way the arching callas frame the couple. Also, look at the line of the necklace. See the way it mimics the the curve beneath the eyes and over the bridge of the nose? 

Let’s talk about color for a bit. Notice you can trace shades of red from the bottom left hand corner all the way through, then exiting the page. You want your eye to go on a color journey. Let your color lead you to all the important symbols on your board. 

Avoid cutting all of the same size images. Your pictures do not need to reflect real-life size progression. The rings and lilies are larger that some of the people. 

Texture. Think about if you could touch each image. What would it feel like? I instantly see multiple textures...metal, satin, flowers, stones, etc. You immediately equate those words with textures your hands know well. 

Do not put titles or words on your mood board. It’s a mood board not a tell-me-how-to-feel board. 

Try making a mood board before your next big creative adventure. You may really enjoy the ease and satisfaction of your end result.

This is one of the small centerpieces from our reception derived from the mood board. 



  1. Okay, so when we do our mood boards together, I want to make one for my 10 year anniversary party. :) Eek, I'm so excited!

  2. Whenever you would like...when do we design your dress?