How to create a visually stunning inspiration board


You’ve seen them floating around Instagram, Pinterest and everywhere else. Inspiration boards, mood boards, creative directions… whatever you want to call them - these collections of curated images can help a lot with visualizing your brand. They’re not only fun to look at, they’re also a lot of fun to make. Ever wondered how to make your own mood board? Well read on because I’m sharing my tips for creating your own inspiration boards — plus giving you three free templates to get started!

Gather Inspiration

Pinterest is the end all be all of visual inspiration and that’s exactly where I go when starting a new project. Head to Pinterest and start pinning your heart out, find images that resonate with you, have colors you love, or the overall feel you’re going for. This is no time to hold back, save your editing eye for later and just go crazy.

I’ve created two different examples for this post, one fall themed and one nautical themed. When searching for images I tried to think out of the box. What makes me think of fall? Leaves, lattes and fleece fabrics. Instead of just searching for fall or autumn, I searched other terms like coffee, orange, twine. And I did the same for the second example. Instead of just nautical or sea, I searched other things like navy tile and white rope. You’ll be surprised what you can find from stretching your search a little.



Find a common theme

Once you’ve got 20-30 images on your board you can begin analyzing them and try to find those common connecting threads. It’s ok if you have some stray images here and there that don’t quite make sense. Stay focused on the images that do go together and ask yourself why? Maybe they all have a certain style aesthetic (minimal, cheerful, modern, bright). Maybe their colors are particularly complimentary. As you sort through the photos, begin editing out the ones that either don’t make sense or aren’t your favorite. Try to narrow it down to 8-10 main images that fit within your project parameters. Somehow I ended up with seven images for both examples.

For the first example, I really liked the bright pops of orange contrasted with the more muted earth tones. At first glance it looks busy, but you can edit this down during the next step, you’ll see what I mean. For the nautical images, I really liked the navy contrasted with the lighter blues and accented with the small hints of yellow. The use of non-“nautical” items like the chest-of-drawers, bathroom tile and plates also got me really inspired.


Layout and composition

Once you’ve narrowed your inspiration images down you can start laying them out in your moodboard. I use Illustrator for this and have created three free templates for you to use as well! I simply copy the image from Pinterest and paste in back (Cmd/Ctrl B) directly in Illustrator, then I can move it to the right position and make a clipping mask with the template shapes. As you arrange images, keep an eye on the color and composition, making sure everything looks balanced and thought-out.

I like to include 3-4 color swatches and use the eye-dropper tool to sample colors directly from the images once they’re set (like the blue from the street in the fall board or the yellow from the starfish in the nautical board).

This is where you edit, edit, edit. Earlier I mentioned that the fall images could be considered a little busy. But if you look at the final board, you can see how I cropped the images to focus in on the things that inspired me - for example the copper mugs from the sweet cider notebook image. Feel free to crop out objects that don’t work, this is a board that reflects what inspires you after all.

It’s important to note that images on Pinterest are protected and should be used in a way that’s ethical. I use these boards for inspiration only, and when working with clients, I keep the Pinterest board so that I can always go back and see the original pin and reference when needed.


Use it!

Now that your board is complete, it’s time to use it! Export it as a PDF, JPEG or PNG and save it on your desktop or print it out and tape it up in your workspace!  The great thing about a well executed mood board is that it can be referenced throughout a design project to make sure you’re staying on track and most importantly, staying inspired.

It’s your turn! Feel free to use these three free moodboard templates to create your own curated inspiration boards. Note: you need Adobe Illustrator to open and use the file.

I’d love to see what you come up and would love to give these templates to anyone who might use them, so feel free to link here in the comments or tag me on Instagram @briana_goad!