Mood boards are fundamental tools used in design industries. The term mood board is often used generically to cover a wide range of board types, each having specific uses. The types of boards considered to be a vital part of the design process that facilitate creative and innovative thinking and application, as opposed to those associated with marketing to merely present and communicate product to an audience, are the focus of this study. The creation of mood boards involves a recognizable process coupled with creativity. The creative process used to develop mood boards can be seen to have three fundamental stages that offer the creator opportunities for deep levels of engagement to take place in order to develop creative and innovative design solutions. This study explores and models this process uncovering the underlying principles in relation to working methodologies and problem-solving theories. Further system models conceptualize the working methodologies of thirteen individuals in case studies using observation techniques and think-aloud methods. An evaluation of the participants’ levels of engagement with the process stages enriches the analysis, drawing conclusions for best practice approaches to the task and the understanding of mood boards as qualitative research tools.