Links I’m Lovin’

• Really great tips for productivity if you’re a recovering distracted multi-tasker like I am.

• I’m not a Disney fangirl, but these Game of Thrones characters Disney-ified are just too perfect.

• This little girl’s rant about toy store gender roles is pure gold. My future child.

• Can we just talk about how good Mad Max was for a second? My favorite character was Nux and here’s why. But also cuz I’ve got a bit of a crush on Nicholas Hoult in this movie in a weird Rick Genest lookalike sort of way…

• Love this segment Mic did about the #freethenipple movement. [NSFW] This quote in particular: “If porn is the only place we do see topless women, no wonder we have trouble overcoming how women are constantly being objectified.”

• I recently revamped my business model along with my website, and Lauren’s business insights for how she runs Elle & Co have been so helpful. Here’s a good one on client homework.

Image source: Stuck with Pins

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim

Had so much fun at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this last Saturday! The show was sold out and packed full of fans from all generations. Obviously this year is a special time for the Star Wars universe with The Force Awakens continuing the original saga in Decemeber, so it was awesome to be a part of that excitement and energy, especially after the premiere of the new teaser on Thursday. Definitely didn’t get tired of hearing people randomly shout out “Chewie, we’re home!” throughout the day, haha.

The days leading up to Saturday, I tuned into the live stream to catch the panels from the comfort of my own home rather than waiting in long lines at the con (wish all cons did live streams like that!). We spent the majority of our SWCA experience wandering the exhibit floor, checking out fan-built droids, snapping pics of costumes and set replicas, swooning over fan art (particularly this adorable painting of a creature carousel by Christian Slade), and searching through the stores for ewok action figures and vintage Micro Machine play sets. We ended the night by watching Empire Strikes Back in a huge theater full of die-hard Star Wars fans and it was the best thing ever.

Also, if there’s not enough Star Wars things to be excited about, check out this leaked teaser for Rogue One, the first standalone film in the Anthology series. Bonus – it’ll feature a female lead. Lots of girl power coming up in the new Star Wars movies!

Free Moodboard Templates

The other day I shared some tips on creating effective mood boards. Gathering the visual inspiration is the fun and easy part, but putting it all together in an organized fashion can be time-consuming. So I’ve created a few free mood board templates for you to use in Photoshop to get you started!

A basic understanding of Photoshop layers and clipping masks is required. I’ve included instructions on a separate layer in the PSD file to give you some guidance on how to use these.

Feel free to ask in the comments below if you have any problems!

Tips for Creating Effective Mood Boards

Being a graphic designer requires a certain level of telepathy to fully understand a client’s vision before starting a project. Unfortunately there isn’t a Skillshare class on mind reading (correction: there was, but it’s since been removed). So using mood boards is the next best way to visually communicate ideas between parties and ensure everyone is on the same page before getting too deep into a design.

Mood boards have been such a helpful part of my process, for clients that know exactly what they want and for those that need a little help making sense of the ideas in their head. So I’ve written up some tips for making mood boards and a step-by-step of how I go about creating them.

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Quick Tips

Gather inspiration from all sorts of places

Search online (I use these sites: Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance, Designspiration, Tumblr, Flickr), browse through books, and look around your environment. Go out and take your own photos, browse through the stuff you have in your own home, peruse the shelves at the store.

When I designed the vinyl album art for Being As An Ocean’s Dear G-d…, I pulled out my parent’s old record collection and spent an hour observing design trends, font styles, textures, etc. The back of that album was actually based off a tattered copy of The Eagles’ The Long Run. When I rebranded a nearby neighborhood, I drove around and took photos of the retro building signs, architecture, and preexisting artwork in the community (murals, paintings on electric boxes, etc). Inspiration is everywhere, so think outside your computer!

Focus more on styles vs final designs

It’s good to include some examples of similar design styles, but avoid filling your entire mood board with other designer’s work. Be inspired by similar styles, but don’t set yourself up to imitate these designs. However, if you find yourself inspired by a design, save it. One of my past instructors used to tell us to save every design we took note of that way we could reference back to them and make sure we didn’t subconsciously copy it. Keeping a private Pinterest board is great for this.

Instead of only referencing other designs, seek out different mediums. When I’m putting together a mood board for a logo design, I don’t just look for other logo designs. I gather photographs, illustrations, book covers, patterns, textures, etc that all convey the style I’m going for.

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Process of Creating a Mood Board

01. Start with keywords that describe the project

Sometimes they’re literal – either related to the brand name, the product, or target audience (for example, bison and jerky were literal keywords for The Dapper Bison); while other times they’re more conceptual (words like rustic, masculine, and adventurous).

02. Search for images that represent the literal keywords

I usually use these as my main images. For example, for The Dapper Bison, my main images were of a bison, a jar of jerky, and a well-dressed gentleman. These main photos helped drive the vibe of the mood board.

03. Next find secondary supporting images

Look for photos, textures, patterns, lettering styles, etc that encompass the conceptual words, and also match or compliment the style of the main image.

04. Notice color trends between the images

Colors are packed full of meaning and have a huge impact on the mood. These sites have some great info on the psychology of color: Symbolism of Color | Color Meaning

05. Look for other images related to that color

Lucky for us, there are people on Pinterest who obsessively organize images in boards based entirely on color. Search for your particular color, select Boards, and browse through the multitude of images strictly in that color. Pick ones that further enhance the overall style of your mood board and carryout the keywords.

06. Reflect on your findings

As I search for inspiration, I throw everything into a private Pinterest board to later make sense of. Some of the images I was originally inspired by won’t get used because they either don’t work with the others, or they just don’t represent the brand like I originally thought.

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07. Ask Why?

If you want to be more than just a pixel pusher, your design decisions need to have purpose. Ask why certain images inspire you or your client, or why they help influence the overall style of the mood board. For example, in my most recent moodboard, my client and I included a specific book cover because we loved the oxblood color, the Old Style serif all uppercase lettering, and the fact that the floral elements mixed in with the medieval weapons felt strong and powerful yet feminine. All of these observations helped influence the final brand.

08. Put it all together

There are many ways to assemble a mood board, but I personally choose to lay them out in a stylized grid in Photoshop. Use varying sizes to establish visual hierarchy – make the most important images larger and keep the secondary supporting images smaller. For more on that, check out 6 Principles of Visual Hierarchy For Designers.


I could write a whole nother post about crediting, but if you’re going to share your moodboard online, give credit for the original works! Correct sources aren’t often easily available on Pinterest (again, I’ll save that for another rant), so Google image reverse search is your best option. Right click the image > Copy Image Address > Go to Google image search > Select the camera icon in the search bar > Paste the image URL and search. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the source of the original image on the first page. If not, you’ll have to do a bit of sleuthing.

Hope this helps some of you! If you aren’t already, give mood boarding a try. They’re not only useful for communicating ideas in the beginning, but they’re also a fun way to get into the groove of your project.

Moodboard – Arc & Ember

Just wrapped up a branding project for a blog client of mine, and I’m super excited to share the final designs! For now, here’s a look at the moodboard we developed for the look-and-feel. My client described the project as “a collaborative online space for women who are connecting to their own bodies, strength, and magic.” We drew a lot of inspiration from the Victorian fascination with Joan of Arc as a sort of mythic representation of feminine power. So we went with a style that was bold but still notably feminine, with a bit of a dark witchy undertone to it. Can’t wait to show off the rest of this project! :)

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