Moodboard Tutorial with Special Guest Taylor Grothe

There are many of you out there who want so badly to participate in #MoodPitch but have NO IDEA how to make a moodboard. Well, fear not, writers! We’ve teamed up with gothic horror novelist Taylor Grothe to bring you an amazing tutorial on how to build moodboards! Her aesthetics are so moody and vibe-y and we couldn’t think of a better person to bring you tips!

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to build a moodboard, complete with photos through the process.

There is also a VIDEO on You Tube where you can catch Kathleen chatting with Taylor about moodboards. We answer the lingering question: why build a moodboard? And, of course, Taylor will take you through the process on her screen as she builds a moodboard right before your eyes.

Taylor is a wonderful USA author of gothic horror. She’s represented by Larissa Melo Pienkowski of Jill Grinberg Literary Management and is currently out on submission with her debut novel. She’s also an AMM ’22 Mentor. Her website is at She makes the most incredible moodboards, so Kathleen thought she would be the perfect person to guide you through the process!

Without further ado, here is Taylor, presenting us with her written guide on how to make your aesthetics powerful and beautiful.

How to Create a Killer Moodboard!

Hi everyone! I’m Taylor, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring you this how-to so you can create some amazing moodboards and win those agents over! Be sure to watch the You Tube video here so you can get an even better idea of how it’s done.

First of all, you’re going to need some stuff: Canva is my favorite program/app but you can also, of course, use any program that helps you lay out images (Layout, VSCO, Pic Collage, etc.) Next, you’ll need to source some images, so get those search engines ready (my favorite place is Unsplash, but I also use Pinterest.) Make a folder on your desktop, too, so you can deposit images and access them quickly. Now you’re ready to go!

1. Find your images! I suggest going nuts at this stage, collecting anywhere between 10-20-100 images that speak to you about your plot. Don’t worry yet about how they fit together, just grab a bunch and stick them into a folder. You can decide later.

2. Decide on a theme and color story! This is easier said than done. When I begin a mood board, I like to try and imagine the color palette of the book or short I’ve written; for me, it’s often a blue-toned color story, since horror is by nature full of shadows. Think about the cover you might imagine for your story—does it take place in a warm setting, like a desert? Likely, then, you’ll be trending into reds and pinks and terra cottas. Is your theme found family? Then you might be looking a warm, soft palette. 

3. Decide what you want the focus of your mood board to be. Is it your main character? Your setting? An object that shows up multiple times in your plot and ties it all together? Typically, that will be your center image. Make a choice and stick to it!

4. In my opinion, having space between images looks a little old-fashioned. If that’s your theme, go for it! Otherwise, reduce spacing between images to nothing, so that all your images touch. I suggest setting your background color to black so that any miniscule space between the images isn’t as obvious.

5. Decide your layout. I like odd numbers so you have a center frame; mine are typically 9 squares (even rows of 3), or 7 squares, with 3 to either side of one tall image. 

6. Color correct every image to have a similar temperature/contrast level as your center image. Depending on your theme, you might want something with high contrast but low saturation so your board feels crisp and modern and monochromatic, or faded and cool so your images feel weathered. Some other boards have highly saturated colors with a unifying color thread. Some yet break this rule and unify the outer pictures to a color theme, and then do the absolute opposite in warmth/color/contrast for the center to drive home the motif’s importance. It all depends on the mood your board is trying to convey. 

7. Find a balance for your images. Try to alternate light and dark images or decide on a gradient direction. I personally try and split up images with similar content so the frames don’t look monotonous (i.e., if I’m using multiple images of hands or other body parts, I separate them with setting images like trees or stars; dark images alternate with light ones, or I do all the light images at the top, all the dark images at the bottom.)

8. Step back and consider your image from a few feet away! Does it feel balanced? Are there any images where the color correction doesn’t quite fit? Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and dip into your folder of the images you initially gathered. You may be surprised what goes together!

9. Experiment, experiment, experiment! Like writing, making a mood board is all about trying new things, tweaking until you get it right.

That’s it, y’all! Go nuts! Can’t wait to see what you make.

So there you have it! Thank you, Taylor, for bringing us your expertise! The video was so much fun to do, too! Be sure to check that out here.

Writers, be sure to watch our Twitter space in the days leading up to the event for some upcoming activities, chats, etc. to help you get prepared and in the mood for #MoodPitch! We can’t wait to see what you make… and neither can the agents and editors who will be pursuing your pitches!

Published by kathleenfoxx

Author of domestic thrillers and gothic horror.

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