How to up your creativity by making a moodboard

Mood board

We’ve all heard about moodboarding, but did you know it can be key to stepping up your creative game? Surface pattern designer Rachelle is here to tell you how they can keep your projects on track…

Have you ever set aside time to start your creative project and then drawn a complete blank? Or do you want to create a collection of products or designs that go together cohesively as a range, but find you have too many ideas and end up with products that don’t work together?

There’s a simple tool that can help you get started, inspire you throughout your entire project and keep you on track – an inspirational moodboard. If you’ve never come across a moodboard before, it’s simply a collection of images you’ll use to visually communicate your ideas and help tell the story for your project. It should give you a strong reference point for starting your project and will show the colour, theme and direction you’re wanting to head in.

Once you’ve created your moodboard, make sure you continually refer to it throughout your project to help motivate you, and make sure your product or design aligns with your vision. It’s not only going to inspire what you’re doing, but it’ll keep you accountable and on track.

3 simple steps to creating your inspirational moodboard

1. Research


The very first step to creating your inspirational moodboard is research. You want to begin by spending time collecting as many creative ideas and beautiful images as possible. At this beginning stage you don’t need to have a firm idea of the direction you want to head in – instead, you should be open to collecting as many different ideas as possible. I highly encourage you to spend lots of time at this stage, because this is where you often find those nuggets that’ll really propel your ideas and get you creating something amazing you might not have thought of.


Think broadly when you’re doing your research. There are so many different places you can look including books, magazines, blogs, websites, Instagram, Pinterest, galleries and museums. My favourite way is simply going for a walk around my neighbourhood and taking photos with my phone. The sky really is the limit! And, just a quick tip – make sure you collate all the inspiration you find. Whatever inspiration you don’t use for this project, you can always use for future projects, so make sure you put in place some good ways of storing your ideas so they’re easy to find. For any digital images, make sure you name and file them in folders, and for physical inspiration, ring-bound folders with tabs are great.

2. Select and edit your images

 Mood board

Now you have all of your wonderful inspiration, you want to sort through it to select one story idea you’ll use to inspire your entire project. This can be anything you want – you just want the idea to sing to you. Start by gathering all the images or ideas you’ve collected that you feel tell the same story. It’ll depend on the type of project you’re working on, but you want to select images that’ll give you a strong sense of the colour palette you’re going to use, the theme, inspiration for your design elements and the overall design direction.

3. Create your moodboard


Mood board

Once you feel happy with the theme you’ve chosen, use your images to create your moodboard. There are no rules to creating a moodboard, but just make sure it clearly communicates your story idea and inspires you to start developing your project.

When it comes to actually putting it together, you can do it any way you like. If you have the digital skills you can create it in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign, or if not, moodboards can work just as well created by hand. Either way, there are a couple of things you should consider to ensure you create a really beautiful and successful moodboard.

  • Less is more. If you have three images that tell the same, or similar, story then you should choose one image to use on your mood board. You don’t need all three.
  • Having too many small images can feel cluttered and confusing. You need to have enough images so you can convey your message, but not so many that your moodboard looks busy and is difficult to read.

Keep in mind when you’re designing that you can still refer to the images that don’t make it onto your moodboard that you find inspiring. Place those extra images in your visual diary, or you could even create a second moodboard to refer to during the design process.

Once you’ve finished creating your moodboard, make sure you have it close by when you’re designing or working on your project. It’ll not only inspire you to get started, but will keep you on track throughout the whole project.


Go and give Rachelle a follow on Instagram and head to her website to get a free download teaching you how to create successful surface pattern designs in 5 simple steps!

If you found this blog post useful, check out our other business tip posts below: