The mood board is a collage that creates a visual presentation of style, feeling, and color. It is the first step I take when designing a doll for a client. In this article are several examples of my concept boards as well as an explanation of how I make them and why I believe they’re an important first step in the design process.
A doll design starts with direction. Usually my clients have a good idea of the kind of doll they want, but they rely on me to flesh out the direction visually. A client looking at a concept board I create for their project will immediately understand the overall feel and look of the doll that I envision for them. Take, for instance “Winter Birds” above. In this toddler-doll concept board I’ve explained the colors, textures, print, main motif and general look of the doll I will design. Yep, it’s going to have a red bird motif and include some sort of knit hat!
I will usually make more than one concept board so my client can pick the ideas they like the best.
Mood boards are composed of images and colors that convey a cohesive look. My concept boards usually show the color palette in squares along one side of the board, as well as the specific outfit details, motifs and fabric textures that I want to use in the doll design. In the board above I’ve included fabric swatches and written explanations to help explain the look. If a client has shared images with me as part of the design direction I will use them as well. Each board also has a title.
I start by farming images online, often creating pin boards specific to the doll themes I use repeatedly so they’re ready when I need them. (Some of my favorite Pinterest boards are Princesses, Mini Fashionistas and Doll Design Inspiration.) Once I find enough images, usually around twenty for one mood board, I plop them into Photoshop and start composing the collage. A look will start to emerge and I’ll delete the images that don’t seem to fit. Once I like what I see I’ll create square color swatches. Using the dropper I’ll pick up colors directly from the images on the board and use the bucket tool to fill the square. Then I’ll give the board a title and fine tune the composition. I like to save both a PSD file for later editing and a jpeg for printing.
With the magic of the Google Search and Pinterest creating a mood board is fast and easy. I spent about an hour researching, editing and composing the images on the board above.
I use the terms “mood board”, “concept board”, and “theme board” interchangeably, though I would say a concept board is more specific than a mood board.
I hope this has answered any questions you have about how and why I make a mood board for my doll design projects. All the boards above were created for my portfolio.