Make a Mood Board in Photoshop

October 2, 2012

Photoshop is an amazing tool for designers and bloggers, but it’s also a huge program that’s pretty intimidating at first glance. I’ve been using Photoshop as an amateur since 2005 and I’m still not even close to mastering it! BUT! It’s not hard to learn the basics. I’m going to attempt to walk you through a tutorial so you can make a simple sewing project mood board similar to this:

Supplies Needed:
Adobe Photoshop – if you don’t have a professional copy, you can download a free trial for 30 days. I’m using version CS5.1 for PC.

Peony Dress Outlines – (right click the image below and save to your desktop)

(original image taken from the Peony Pattern PDF copyright Colette Patterns)

Additional Graphic Elements – the washi tape and kraft paper graphics I used are available as free downloads from Pugly Pixel! (Katrina’s site is an amazing resource!!) You’ll also need a digital square fabric swatch if you’d like to represent your dress in that print.

Fun Fonts! – The ones that come stock with your computer will do just fine, but it’s always fun to download free fonts! Try Google Web Fonts, or Font Squirrel! (There are lots of other free font sites out there, but it’s best to have an anti-virus software installed on your computer before downloading from them, just to be safe.)

Points to ponder before we start: It’s important to have a general idea of where things are located before we dive into this. I highly recommend blocking out some time to just open photoshop and click around. You’ll get better with the program by finding things on accident!
We’ll be starting at the “File” drop down menu. This is where you find the options to start a new project from scratch, open a file already saved to your computer, save your project, etc. The tool bar on the left hand side is where we’ll find the move tool (arrow at the very top), the text tool, the marquee selection tool, and more. If you roll over one of these tools a window will pop up to tell you what it is. Next we have layers on the right. Every single element of this mood board is represented as a separate editable layer. The layer that is highlighted blue is the one that will be affected. You have the options to hide layers, merge layers, delete layers, add layer specific effects, and the list goes on and on!

Okay, that’s definitely a lot to take in all at once! Be prepared to make mistakes. It’s part of learning! Remember to SAVE your work often, and use “undo” (under the edit drop down) to go back a step. All of the keyboard shortcuts are listed in the drop downs as well; learning them makes things go a little faster. Still with me?? Great! Let’s do this 🙂

Step One: Make sure all the files you’ll be using are saved on your desktop, or in a special folder. Open Photoshop then click “File” and “New” in the top drop down menu.
I changed the name of the file to “My Mood Board” and set the width of my new project to 640px since that’s the widest my blog will allow. Resolution is fine at 72 for our purposes, RBG Color mode is fine, and Background Contents should be white. Click OK. Now is a good place to SAVE your new project. Click the File menu again, scroll down and click Save As, and then save accordingly.

 Step Two: Click “File” and “Open” to open up the Peony line drawings that you saved. This will open the file in a separate tab.
Using your rectangle marquee tool found in the upper left tool bar (you can see it selected in the photo above) and draw a box around the dress image you’d like to use. Then click and hold the “Ctrl and C” keys to copy what you’ve selected. Now switch back to the new blank project tab you previously opened, and hit “Ctrl and V” to paste the line drawing of the dress.

Step Three: Next open up your fabric swatch that you’ve saved. We’re going to define this image as a pattern so we can use it as our dress fabric. Finding a digital swatch that’s a perfect square is ideal. If not you can crop it using the crop tool in the left sidebar. You’ll want to resize the swatch so it’s pretty small, if not it will look way too big on your dress. To resize something, click “Image” in the drop down menus, then “image size”, or click and hold “Ctrl and Alt and i” as the short cut. I resized mine to 200px.
Once your file is resized, click “Edit” and scroll down to “Define Pattern”. Now return to your project in the other tab.

Step Four: Now we’re going to use the Magic Wand tool located in the left tool bar (4th one down from the top) and start selecting the areas we want to fill with our fabric pattern. You can click and select multiple areas at once by holding the Shift key as you click. Below I have everything selected but the belt area.
 Now that these areas are selected, click “Edit” and scroll down to click “Fill…”. A new window will pop up. Under contents, Use, select “Pattern” in the drop down menu. Click the little arrow to the right of the custom pattern swatch to find your fabric swatch that you previously defined. Click OK. That should all look like this…
Now your Peony line drawing should be filled with your fabric pattern! Pretty neat, huh?

Oh, make sure you’re saving your work!

Step Six: That was the hardest part! Now it’s just a matter of adding new layers and text. Open your other graphics as you did the Peony line drawings, and copy and paste the items into your project tab. It’s good to get in the habit of naming your layers so they’re easy to find. Double click over the text of your new layer to edit it. (If you double click outside of that area, it will open up a new options window. That’s a good place to start playing around with drop shadows and things!)
I would re-name this layer to “tape” so I can easily find it if I want to move it or edit it. The Pugly Pixel washi tape strips are a HUGE resolution, so you’ll need to scale them down. Click “Ctrl and T” to free transform and resize it. Mouse over one of the corners and click and drag it to a smaller size. If you want the item to resize proportionally, hold shift as you do this.

Remember to save!

I think the rest of the steps I added are pretty self explanatory or just repeating what I already demonstrated.

-To add text, click the big T in the left tool bar. Then click anywhere on your project to start typing.

-Remember your layer needs to be selected blue in order to move it around. Once you have a few things lined and layered in just the right spot, you can shift and select them all to move them as a group, or right click in the blue area to “merge” the layers so they will stay together permanently.

-To fill something with a solid color, such as the belt, click the paint bucket tool and then click the belt to fill it with whatever color.

-An easy way to make the stitching effect I have shown is to just type a bunch of dashes!

What do you think, is this enough to get you started?? If you have specific questions, I can try my best to answer them. Honestly though, as I mentioned, the best way to learn the program is to just start clicking things!

I really hope this has been helpful to a few of you. If you decided to try one for yourself, please be sure to share in the flickr group pool so I can see!