Slides Got You Stuck? Start With a Moodboard

April 21, 2014

Often, the most difficult part about creating a visual project is starting it. While you may have a great idea, it can be tough to know how exactly you will execute it. There are so many different factors to take into account: time, audience demographics, intent, size, placement, color, font, style... the list goes on. While some people have the supernatural ability to “wing it," most of us don’t. We need more structure, we need influences, and we need a map to guide us. Whether we're creating a presentation, website, painting, blueprints for an architect, or a book cover, visual influence and planning are key. This is where the concept of moodboarding comes in.

So, What is It?

A moodboard is, in the simplest terms, a visual collage of inspiration to help facilitate the beginning stages of a visually creative project. It lets you know what the “look,” “feel,” and “tone” of project will be. Inspiration for your moodboard can come from anywhere; think of it as a roadmap that shows where your project will end up.


Where Does It Come From?

Traditionally, creatives pull examples of existing work that they deem influential to their specific project. This includes samples of typography, colors, textures, and photography styles, but they don’t always have to be this specific. You can gain inspiration from anything. Perhaps you’re walking down the sidewalk and a shadow from a tree is cast at certain angle and you think, “what if I used an angle cut like this?” Whip out your phone, take a picture, and use it in your moodboard. There’s no right or wrong way to create one as long it inspires.

Tools to Help Create Moodboards:

1. Adobe Suite (In-Design, Illustrator, Photoshop) This can be time intensive to learn, but allows you play with layouts and bring some of the proposed elements/inspiration into the design of the moodboard.

2. Evernote - A quick and easy way to store thoughts and images through text, recordings, and images. Both mobile and desktop versions are available.

3. Pinterest - A highly visual moodboard where you can save images from the internet to their respective “boards” or upload your own.

4. Sampleboard - An online concept creation tool that is basically a Pinterest board on steroids. It allows users to search by color, palette, or pattern and share with ease.

Stuck during your project? Refer back to your moodboard. Inspired by something completely at random? Put it on the moodboard. They can be an excellent way to share the jumble of ideas you have about a project in a visual way. Even better, there is no wrong way to create a collage as long as it fuels your creative process and inspires.

READ MORE: The Right Way to Incorporate Typography with Photography

About the Author

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki.

If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University. Find Scott on Google+.