Do you want to integrate a digital mood board app into your workflow?
This guide will help you choose the right app and maximize its features.
Crafting a mood board can align your vision with your client’s expectations and needs from the get-go.
But there’s a sea of free mood board apps out there, and not all of them are worth your time.
In this post, I’ll share 13 options that range from simple collage-makers to complex whiteboard tools purpose-built for collaboration.
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Free Mood Board Apps: Top Picks in 2023
I would’ve loved to say there’s one “ideal” mood board app I’d recommend for everyone.
Unfortunately, things are a tad bit more complex than that.
The choice depends on a few factors, including your project’s nature, your workflow, and which device you prefer to work on.
So, consider all these factors as you browse the top picks.
Many people know that Canva’s free cloud-based graphic design tool is great for creating invitations, Etsy shop covers, business cards, infographics, and whatnot.
But it also works like a charm for boards.
On Canva, you’ll get access to millions of visual assets (photos, illustrations, and icons) to incorporate into your boards.
All you need to do is sign up for an account, search for “Mood Boards,” pick a template, and drag and drop images.
The customization tools let you resize, recolor, remove, and relocate visual elements on the template using grids and frames.
At its core, Milanote is a note-taking app.
However, there’s a moodboard solution integrated into the app, and it’s efficient enough for most professionals.
Overall, Milanote is quite minimalistic. So, you’ll either love or hate the interface, depending on your style and workflow.
But this minimalism doesn’t mean the tool is lacking feature-wise.
In fact, Milanote boasts a stock library of 3 million images, thanks to its integration with Pexels.
It also supports color swatches, sketching, GIF insertion, and collaboration features.
Much like Canva, Milanote comes in both a free version and a subscription model.
Users who prefer using their computers could either rely on the site itself or download the desktop apps.
In this case, I’d recommend getting the Web Clipper extension, as well, to save board assets to your Milanote account as you browse the internet.
The Trace architecture drawing software is perhaps the most well-known app in the Morpholio suite, with its custom stencils and nifty AR Sketchwalk feature.
Yet, the Board app is just as impressive.
It handles overlapping layers well, supports textured backgrounds, and lets you customize pallets via the Color Seed tool.
Morphoplio offers intuitive Board software for Mac, iPhone, and iPad devices.
Remember that the Board app is best suited for interior designers—so much so that it’s been featured by Elle Decor.
You’ll see this loud and clear in the curated furniture library.
Unlike Morpholio, which was created with interior designers in mind, StudioBinder is a good fit for production boards.
StudioBinder’s lineup comprises five main solutions intended to help producers with their workflow: Write, Breakdown, Visualize, Plan, and Shoot.
You’ll want to go with the Visualize solution to create storyboards, design mood boards, or craft shot lists.
Since it’s supposed to help streamline production workflows, StudioBinder added collaboration and teammate-sharing features.
One drawback is that the free plan is only good for one project per company account.
Another thing that might be a little inconvenient is that StudioBinder currently doesn’t come as a mobile app—it’s only available via the platform.
GoMoodboard is another browser-based solution.
It’s free, intuitive, and requires no sign-up whatsoever.
You pick a template or start on a blank board and get to work
All in all, I’d recommend it if you want a simple, stripped-down interface and don’t really mind missing out on the advanced collaboration or customization features.
You might have heard about the Adobe Express, but in case you haven’t, here’s a quick overview:
It’s an all-in-one design tool ideal for content creators, available as a web platform and a mobile app.
On the interface, you can search for “mood boards” to view thousands of templates and sort them by aesthetic (abstract, bohemian, avant-garde, etc.).
Some of them will require a premium subscription, but you still have access to plenty of options using the free plan.
The free version also has all the core features, from the typography effects to the layer sorting.
GoDaddy Studio’s interface and user experience aren’t all that different from Canva and Adobe Express.
So, it’s suitable even for beginners.
That said, you might want to upgrade to Pro at some point.
It’ll give you unlimited access to the full template range and some additional tools, like the background remover.
If collaboration and visual brainstorming are a priority for you and your team, Mural could be the right pick.
Mural’s highlight product is the flexible whiteboard solution, ideal for Agile and LUMA systems.
Thankfully, the mood board solution is also purpose-built for teams.
One concern here is that Mural only has one mood-board-specific template.
If you’re unhappy with how it looks, you’ll need to start from a blank canvas in the digital space.
Freehand is an all-in-one smart canvas used primarily for workflow management for creatives.
While the app is great for mind mapping, wireframing, and creating flowcharts, it also works well for mood boarding.
You’ll find a few suitable templates in the library, and you’ll get to customize everything, from the image borders to the way your swatches look on the page (drops vs. coded cards).
Aside from the basic features, InVision also supports bidirectional integrations.
For instance, you can embed elements from Google Docs, Loom, YouTube, Giphy, Unsplash, and more.
InVision is also available for iOS devices if you want to take your boards on the go.
Much like Freehand, Miro is a collaborative whiteboard solution.
Miro’s template library includes a few designs for vision boards, storyboards, and mood boards.
The mood board template has preset slots for illustration, pallet, typography, icons, UI/UX, and website examples.
However, you can easily shift things around to make the layout more suitable for filmmaking or production purposes.
Mac (Intel or M1) and Windows desktop apps are also available for download.
Plus, you could use Miro on Windows as an interactive display if you’re presenting the board to the client in a face-to-face meeting.
Technically, Niice is a creative cloud that allows brands to share their projects and libraries with the world.
But you can also use it to create the items (like mood boards) that you’ll showcase in said libraries.
Niice makes it easy to preserve your brand identity, not only in each and every board you create but also in the hub’s interface itself.
Once you sign up, you’ll be prompted to choose your brand’s primary color and logo.
Then, you can embed assets from tools like Adobe XD, Figma, Loom, Giphy, and even Canva.
Niice also streamlines the process of managing creative input and sharing the final output.
Users can choose who gets access to which boards and whether they can edit, comment, download, share, or view the document.
You’ll probably want to rely on the browser version to make the most out of Niice, though.
The same brand owns Lucidchart and Lucidspark, both chock full of features.
However, Lucidspark is what matters the most for this guide’s purposes.
On the board, you get all the basic customization features, including changing each image’s shape and scale.
However, the tool’s seemingly infinite canvas, sticky notes, and freehand sketch tool make it ideal for brainstorming sessions.
Of course, the platform also supports collaboration and in-board commenting.
13. Figma FigJam
FigJam is Figma’s online collaboration tool, and lucky for us, it has a digital mood board template.
The canvas size is flexible since it’s more of a lightweight whiteboard.
Overall, this template could be a suitable pick if you’re looking for a quirky and fresh vibe.
Figma itself is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android tablets/phones. But you’ll want to download the standalone FigJam app if you mainly want to work on the whiteboard.
5 Tips for Creating an Effective Mood Board
Most mood board creator apps and sites are intuitive, so you’ll likely be able to figure out the design process in no time.
The tricky part is what you do before and after the design and organization phases.
Here are five crucial tips to keep in mind:
1. Set a Solid Foundation
Before you even add one image to the board, it’s important to have a core idea that you’ll build around.
Otherwise, you could have a mishmash of aesthetics and moods that might not serve your client.
So, ask yourself what concrete concepts, aesthetics, or feelings you want in your board.
Hint: The client brief should help you out here!
2. Give Yourself Time to Gather Inspiration
You definitely could put a mood board together in a couple of hours, but that’s not always the best way to go.
Ideally, I try to start the exploration phase early to give myself enough time to think about the story I want to tell and look for the images that reflect it.
Platforms and apps that come with a web clipper can be handy for this tip.
This way, even if browsing casually and seeing something you like, you can save it to your account and use it for the board later.
3. Diversify Your Inspiration Sources
Obviously, images are vital for any mood board.
But using other media is okay if you think it’ll serve the style and aesthetic.
For instance, you might embed animations and videos to capture motion and sound.
4. Know When to Stop
It’s so easy to get carried away with the sources and end up with 20 or even 25 images on your board.
Not only will the board look cluttered, but you’ll also risk diluting the vibe and atmosphere you’re trying to capture.
My advice? Go crazy with the exploration phase and gather as many potential inspirational images as possible.
Once it’s time to actually put the board together, cull the selection and try to stick to 5–15 images.
Ask yourself if each image adds a new (and needed) character to the mood board. If not, then it has to go.
It’s also worth noting that some apps have upload limits on the free version.
Milanote, for instance, offers only ten file uploads for non-paid account users. So, a bit of restraint will go a long way!
5. Get a Second Opinion
Many apps and whiteboard platforms offer real-time collaboration features—use them!
Once you’re done with the board and before you show it to the client, share it with a colleague or a teammate to see what they think.
When in doubt, know that it’s okay to present more than one mood board for your client.
How to Use a Mood Board App as a Photographer or Filmmaker
Both digital and physical mood boards can be useful for a wide range of creative professionals.
But since you’re here, you’re probably either a photographer or a filmmaker looking to set a direction for an upcoming project.
So, let’s check out how the mood board can help you share your vision and turn it into reality:
- Explain Your Vision: Use the board elements to show the client how you see the photo shoot/film turning out in terms of lighting, landscapes, and style.
- Define the Core Color: Embed a color swatch or a code card into the board to evoke all the right emotions based on color psychology.
- Prepare for the Shoot: Add a couple of images that reflect the general props and customs needed for the photoshoot/film so you can prepare everything in advance.
What is the best Apple mood board app?
Adobe Express, Miro, InVision, Milanote, and Morpholio are all popular picks on the Apple App Store.
Jux is also good for creating boards on the go using your iPad.
Is there a mood board app for Android?
Yes, many of the tools that offer iOS apps also have Android versions on the Google Play Store.
Your options include Canva, Milanote, Adobe Express, Mural, and Miro.
How do I create a mood board on my phone?
If you’re using a compatible app, the process should be simple, mirroring that on the web platform.
You’ll browse the templates, upload the images from your phone’s gallery, and customize the layout.
If you’re using an app that supports Apple Pencil, like Freehand and Morpholio, the organization and final touches should be even easier.
Is it better to use a mood board app for a PC or phone?
It’s all a matter of preference, but some designers and creative professionals prefer using a mood board maker that runs on both a PC and a phone.
This way, they can freehand sketches and add new inspirations even when they’re out of the office.
Can you use mood board apps for free?
Yes, many apps are available for free versions or trials. However, you’ll likely find some limitations on the number of boards, collaborators, uploads, or features.
If you’ll only make a couple of mood boards every now and then, you might not have to upgrade to paid plans at all.
What is the difference between an inspiration board and a mood board?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but mood boards are more about conveying feelings.
Meanwhile, inspiration boards tend to focus on details and textures.
Can you make a Pinterest mood board?
It’s possible to use the “Board” feature on Pinterest to save a collection of pins that you’ll use as inspiration for your project later.
To make the exploration process easier, consider using the “Pinterest Save” browser extension.
As the Content Manager of Shotkit, India Mantle brings with her a lifelong love for photography that she developed during her childhood, watching her father document their family moments with his Nikon EM. In her free time, you find her enjoying the awe-inspiring natural beauty of her home, Northern Rivers, Australia.