Mood board: A collection of images and/or texts, arranged in order to illustrate a certain idea. Mood boards can be drawn by hand or digitally and is an useful tool to show your thoughts, as well as collect different information, in preparation for new projects.
In animation, mood board is considered the perfect way to gather and illustrate creative ideas before starting work on pre-production. Mood boards must be able to show clearly and in an impressive manner your vision, instead of just being a messy collection of images. So how can we achieve that? Below are some tricks for you to freely express yourselves with mood boards.
1. Choose the right format
From the outset, establish how you mood board is going to be presented, as this will determine how you go about it and how much or little detail to go into.
An ‘offline’ mood board will generally be looser in style and could still be presented online, with some explanation, while a completely online mood board should be tighter and will generally need to work harder to convey a theme or style. Think about how a person viewing your mood board solely via email would view it.
2. Make the theme obvious
Obscure references can be fun, but try to have a number of relatable items or ‘touchpoints’ in your mood board. You want to let others in, so being deliberately obtuse will earn you no points at all. It’s easy to fill out a board with a pile of incomprehensible references; it’s much harder to be clear and use imagery to sell your vision. But it’s worth the effort.
3. Build things up around a large image
Whether your mood board is electronic or physical, the layout needs to give prominence to key theme images. You can then surround these with smaller supporting images that enhance the theme.
It’s a subliminal trick. When someone sees a large image on your board in their heads they’ll have questions about it – and they’ll quickly scan the rest of the board to find answers for those questions. If you place smaller supporting images around the larger image they should answer these questions by clarifying the messaging given in the larger one.
4. Arrange neatly and systematically
Have you ever felt the annoyance of walking into a gallery and … feel nothing? You don’t feel touched or understand anything that the pictures were meant to show. Putting a collection of pictures together and call it a gallery is simple, but you need to invest more time and effort to organise them systematically, such that each pictures interact with one another.
5. Keep things loose
Locking an idea or a style down in a mood board can be detrimental, as the client will feel shoehorned into going with a particular aesthetic. Keep everything a little loose and don’t make everything look too final.
If you’re using preview images from image libraries, don’t worry about the watermarking on them – it all adds up to a ‘hey look, we can change this, these are ideas’ feel to the board.
6. Text it up
Don’t ignore the power of a few isolated words on a board. Well-chosen words can be fantastic show-stoppers and give your viewer pause for thought as they have to mentally read what’s in front of them. Big, bold words juxtaposed together work very well at creating drama, tone and meaning for any project.
7. Take pictures
Real-world inspiration is all around us. So use the camera on your phone to take pictures of everything you see that inspires you, whether that be a bird in flight, great use of typography on a sign, or the brickwork on a building. Or maybe it’s just a little corner of your house.
They don’t have to be great photos in the traditional sense – it’s all about capturing thoughts, impressions, themes and feelings.