S1. EP2 – Creating fashion mood boards in Adobe Illustrator

by | Feb 19, 2019 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

What are Mood Boards?

We define mood boards as an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept. They are used to convey your design idea, win pitches and get an early sign-off on your work. They are an integral part of any design project and can be used by anyone, from absolute beginners to industry professionals. Think of them as a way for other people to understand your vision without the need for too much verbal explanation. You can create either one large mood board or a series of boards that each demonstrate a particular concept within the larger idea.

As we’ve mentioned in Episode 1, we use mood boards to categorise our research into the four main fashion design categories: Mood, Silhouette, Design Details & Colour/ Print/ Fabric. Not only are they a good way of communicating your ideas to others, but they’re incredibly useful when it comes to actually designing your garment or collection of garments, since they already contain all of the key ideas you have in mind.

So… want to know how we created our mood boards in S1. EP1  of our new video blog? Of course you do! This tutorial should give you all the info you need to quickly create your own. We’ll take you, step by step, through the whole process. We’ve also included some handy downloads to get you started (bottom of page)


Types of Mood Board

 You can create mood boards in a number of different ways, but essentially they all serve one purpose. 


Online & Pinterest:
Essentially, Pinterest was invented purely to make image searching and mood board creation simple! It’s a wonderful platform that is continually evolving. It’s great for finding imagery, sharing ideas with others on your team and collaboration on specific projects. Although it is very versatile, it can be tricky to arrange your imagery into a story, since the flow or positioning of images are controlled by the width of your screen. Recently, Pinterest have introduced sections to their boards, which allow you to categorise your inspiration more effectively. Although Pinterest is fab, you still can’t sketch on it or add objects easily. We tend to use Pinterest for the initial research process and as a reference point for our clients. 


Wall Art:
Why not go old school and pin inspirational imagery to your wall at home or in your studio. This technique is especially helpful if you have a lot of imagery or inspiration. You’ve probably seen design studios covered in images, nick-nacks or objects that relate to their current collection. It’s an old-school technique predominantly taught in fashion design schools. It’s a great way of formulating ideas since you are always surrounded by the things that inspire you, giving your subconscious time to process your ideas. You might find this technique the best for those ‘eureka’ moments! You can also play with your imagery, draw on it, move it around, stick objects to it and more. It’s a really hands-on way of working through your ideas. 


A booklet is a very handy way of collating your inspiration, especially for review by your client or teammates. A booklet let’s you tell a story from start to finish, focusing on the most important elements of your concept first and then finishing on the least important or less established ideas. Not only that, but it allows you to enlarge or reduce the size of specific imagery to make it more or less prominent. It’s also small, easy to print, portable and you or your client can make notes on the various page. A win-win! We think of the  booklet as the final step in your mood board making process.


Tutorial Overview 

  • Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator
  • Define the paper size, number of pages and orientation of your mood boards.
  • Use the rectangle tool to create a series of custom grids and image layouts to display your inspirational imagery.
  • Edit, duplicate and combine existing image layouts to quickly create new mood boards.
  • Refine the spacing between your image layouts using the nudge or arrow keys on your keyboard. 
  • Add transparent banners, titles and text to your mood boards in preparation for your imagery.
  • Copy inspirational imagery from Pinterest or your web browser into Adobe Illustrator.
  • Rotate, resize, flip and mirror your imagery whilst maintaining their proportions.
  • Arrange objects using layers and add imagery to your layouts using the clipping mask tool.
  • Create beautiful colour palettes by picking colours from your imagery using the eyedropper tool.
  • Arrange and order your mood boards to either save or print in order/ sequence.
  • Save your mood boards as a multipage PDF and adjust the file size to print, share or send via email.



Kimono Moodboard example

Download the finished kimono mood boards, in PDF format, to help you understand the concept and tools used to create them. Includes imagery, layouts and titles. 

lily source imagery stock imagery

Visit our Pinterest page to see all the images used for both the robe and kimono projects.

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