How To Create A Clean & Simple Inspiration Board

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Inspiration boards are the starting point of every design project I create for my business. For me, it is a fundamental step in the creative process to visually and effectively communicate with my clients that sometimes words simply can’t do, it establishes the aesthetic feel from the outset of the design project. This can prove to be a huge time saver with revisions later on, it ensures the client that we're on the same page as far as the direction of the project. I also use the inspiration board as an intuitive way to brainstorm and organize my research.

Every identity package I create is custom tailored to fit each individuals needs and desire, so before I start, I have the client fill out an in-depth design questionnaire I created to help me get a clear understanding of what their preferences are for their project. Once that questionnaire is returned, I will see how they responded, and zero in on the look and feel they desire. Using several online resources, designspiration, Pinterest or stock photo galleries, I gather imagery that will lend to the brand's aesthetic.

Today I will be giving you a step-by-step inside look at my process, how to create your own clean and simple inspiration board. Whether you’re a designer or another professional, inspiration boards are a great foundation for any project or major event and I hope you find this process helpful.

So let's get started making your inspiration board!

GATHER YOUR RESEARCH:

Create a new board on Pinterest to catalog your photos. Start with gathering a collection of inspiring images that attract your attention. Don't be afraid to pull from interior design photos, food photography, or photos with interesting patterns or textures for added dimension.

Once you have some images curated on a Pinterest board, study the photos and look for any overall theme or similarities, save the photos in a folder to your desktop. Now it's time to piece them together in a layout. There are many applications to do this, I like to use Adobe Photoshop. If you don't have Adobe Photoshop, you can download a 30-day free trial at adobe.com.

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LAYOUT:

Open a new web document, and choose the pixel width of your blog or website. I like to build my boards larger and then downsize the final file, so I choose to start with 2400 px x 2550 px.

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I'll begin pulling what I feel are the strongest images into the layout first and build out from there, cropping and repositioning as needed. It can be a bit time consuming, but the images will start to fit together and will look similar to the board below.

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As you refine your board, play around with your layout and turn on and off layers until the overall composition looks pleasing. I like to add blocks of color to introduce a loose color scheme and will often use the eyedropper tool in Photoshop to sample colors from my photos.

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To finish, I export the layout by "saving for web", navigate to where I want to store my file and save my new inspiration board as a .JPG.

THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Try to include both horizontal and vertical photo orientations to add interest.
  • Keep an equal amount of white space between the images to help everything look
    clean and polished.
  • The final inspiration board should contain anywhere from 8 to 12 images and have a storyline that is cohesive and logical to the brand.

FINAL PRODUCT USE:

Once the client bought into the vision and approved the inspiration board, I keep it close throughout the design process to serve as a visual touchstone so I can refer back to it and see whether new ideas match up with my design.


NOTE: There's no right or wrong way for gathering your research to complete the above process for an inspiration board. Some companies I design for are large corporations and answering a questionnaire is more time efficient for the client then having them create a Pinterest board. Do whatever you think works best for your client.


How do you research and gather information and images to start your new client branding job? Share your ideas below in the comments.