I’m Board

Oh yes, I know that’s the wrong type of board.  That’s a hint for you.  I’ve gotten a few questions about mood boards, so here’s what I do.  Professional designers probably have a quicker, better method, so if you’ve got tips or tricks, feel free to share in the comment section.

Are you ready?  Here goes nothing.  First, open a new document in Photoshop.  The canvas can be any size and resolution, you can always change it as you go.  I typically make mine 9 inches wide by 5 inches tall at 180 dpi.  Now, find an image of the items you want to add.  To make it easy on myself, I go to a website and take a screen shot and paste it (Control + V) on my canvas.  This automatically adds each item as a new layer.  When possible, use an image against a white background.

To remove a colored background, select the eraser tool, adjust the diameter, leaving the hardness at 100 percent.

For me, the easiest way to erase a background is using a small eraser tip, holding the shift button, and carefully clicking around the edges.  For straight lines, click once at the far end, hold shift and click at the opposite and it will make a straight line.  To go around corners, follow this same procedure, making smaller clicks to go around.

After tracing all the edges, erase the remaining background with a larger eraser tip.  If you want the item larger or smaller, click the rectangular marquee to make a box around the item.  Right click and select ‘Free Transform’.  Hold shift to enlarge proportionately and hit enter when you like the size.

You’ve made one item!  Go back to another image, screen shot, and paste it in.  Rename the new layer right away so you’re not searching through once you’ve added several items.

Erase the background on this one, too.

After tracing the outline, go back in with a larger brush tip to make this quicker.

Keep on adding items.  If you get an item you want to rotate, select the marquee, right-click, and choose ‘Free Transform’.  While holding shift, turn the item.

See that rug above?  Well, I don’t want it to lay over the couch.  Find that layer and drag it under the rest, making it the first layer.  Now the rest of the layers will sit on top if it.

If you want to add two of one item, select the layer, right-click on it, and select ‘Duplicate Layer’.

Photoshop places the new layer over the existing one, so move it where you want and you’ve got a pair.  If you want to flip it, use the marquee tool, right-click, and select ‘Flip Horizontal’.

For paint swatches, I think this method is the quickest.  First, paste the screen shot of the color.  Use the marquee too to make a square on the swatch.  Push Control and C at the same time to copy, then Control and V to paste the selected square.

Delete the screen shot of the swatch and move your new little box over to fit in your board.

Then you can choose accent paint colors and layer those on top.

It’s up to you if you want to arrange the furniture to look like a room.  Or just group pieces together to get an idea of the elements as a whole.

P.S.  If you’re having a hard time seeing the details, click on the picture to enlarge it.

P.P.S.  All keyboard short cuts mentioned are for PC, not Mac, though they are similar.

11 thoughts on “I’m Board

  1. Hi Amanda!
    Great tutorial! I’m fairly new to Photoshop so this is fantastic. I just wanted to share with you one of my favorite Photoshop tools….the Background eraser! If you right-click on the eraser tool you used, it pops up a little menu and it’s in there. The tool is amazing and just plain magical in my opinion! It works especially well with white backgrounds but I’ve used it with other colors and patterns as well. It’s really nice when you’re trying to remove the background of something holey (like a logo or other things with letters). Just thought I’d mention it. Might make your life a little easier! Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Nicole!

      Thanks for the tip. I think I’ve used it once or twice… I’ll have to fiddle around with it more. 🙂


  2. Thank you for posting this! I have just been introduced to photoshop, and I have to say I need all the help I can get. You are amazing. Thank you so much again!

  3. With something with a fairly crisp/ contrasting line like the couch it might be easier/faster to use the magnetic lasso tool and then “select inverse” and just delete. It’s so quick to go around an object that way. If there isn’t a clear line that tool won’t work as well because it will try to select other stuff too, but I usually try that tool first and then move to more time consuming tools if it doesn’t work well with that object.

    1. Hey Sarah!

      I used to use the Magnetic Lasso, but I’ve gotten pretty quick at tracing the edges. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I had a hard time getting the lasso to ‘stick’ to things evenly and it took several times tracing it. But that comes in really handy if you want to make an outline of something. Thanks for your input!


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