How to Create Mood Boards on Windows for Free With PureRef

Creative individuals usually need an efficient way to organize their thoughts visually so they can easily communicate their ideas, concepts, or designs. That’s where mood boards come in, allowing them to create a digital collage they can populate with images that have inspired them during a particular project.

As a Windows user, you have many tools at your disposal that can help you create mood boards. One of them is a free and lightweight desktop app called PureRef. So, let’s dive in and see how to get started with PureRef

What Is PureRef and How Do You Download It for Free on Windows?

PureRef is a standalone desktop application that you can use to organize reference images that you’ve gathered from various sources. It will enable you to create mood boards to brainstorm the right way by simply dragging and dropping what inspires you onto a digital canvas.

To download PureRef for Windows, go to the PureRef homepage and click on Download on the top right. Under Choose platform, click on Windows and select the architecture in the dropdown. We recommend choosing Installer 64bit (x64) for 64 bit systems, or Installer 32bit (x86) for 32 bit.

Scroll down, and under Select Amount, choose Custom Amount. If you want to donate something to support the developers, enter your amount. But if you’re going to use PureRef for free, you can also enter 0 as well, and you’ll still be able to download it.

Scroll down some more, and in the Checkout section, click on Download. PureRef will now download onto your PC.

To install PureRef, go to the location where you downloaded the installer, double-click it and follow the instructions. Once the app finishes installing, it will launch itself, and you can now start creating your mood board.

The Basics of Creating a Mood Board in PureRef

Double-click on the PureRef icon on your desktop to launch it. PureRef has no way to search for images inside the app, so you have to use some from your computer or get them from various digital art resources online.

To make dragging and dropping images into PureRef easier, you should start by pressing Ctrl + Shift + A. Doing this will enable the app’s always on top mode, meaning it will be on top of every window you open. Now, open the folder with your reference images and drag and drop them into PureRef.

When you place the images into PureRef, it will automatically create a canvas for you (this is your mood board in this case). You can drop the image anywhere, and the program will automatically expand the mood board to fit as many of them as you want. If you’d rather grab images online instead, just open a browser, go to a site like Pinterest or Google Images and drag and drop photos into your mood board.

Once you finish creating your mood board, you can save it by right-clicking anywhere in the canvas and selecting Save > Save in the context menu. Give your mood board a name and click on the Save button. PureRef will save the file with the extension PUR.

If you want to close PureRef, you can right-click anywhere in the window and select Close. And to open a mood board and continue working on it, right-click anywhere in the PureRef window and select Load > Load. Click on the PureRef file you want to open and click on the Open button.

How to Move Around in PureRef

First, let’s look at how to zoom in PureRef. To do this on a mouse, roll the scroll wheel up to zoom in and down to zoom out. On a laptop, place two fingers on the touchpad and swipe up to zoom in and down to zoom out.

To pan the mood board in any direction while working with a mouse, press the middle mouse button or scroll wheel and drag. On a touchpad, press the Alt key and then click and drag in any direction. And if you want to move the PureRef window, right-click and drag it around the screen.

Moving, Resizing, and Rotating Images in PureRef

To work efficiently in PureRef, you will need to know how to do the following things with images:

  • Move: Click and drag an image to any part of the canvas.
  • Resize: Click on an image and place the cursor on any corner. You’ll know you can resize it when the cursor turns into a diagonal left-right arrow. Then, click and drag in any direction to change the image’s size.
  • Rotate: Click on the image and place the cursor a little outside its corner. The cursor will turn into a bent arrow, meaning you can now click and drag clockwise or anti-clockwise to rotate the image.

Useful PureRef Shortcuts

Every good Windows program has shortcuts, and PureRef is no different. Here are some shortcuts that can save you a few clicks as you create your mood boards:

Shortcut Key Function
Ctrl + S Save your mood board.
Ctrl + L Load a mood board.
Ctrl + K Create a new mood board.
Ctrl + Z Undo an action.
Ctrl + Shift + Z Redo an action.
Ctrl + O This shortcut will optimize the canvas by eliminating extra space around the images.
Ctrl + N Create a note to leave yourself reminders throughout your mood board.
Ctrl + F Maximize the PureRef window.
Ctrl + M Minimize the PureRef Window.
Ctrl + Shift + O Open the source of the image.
Ctrl + Shift + T Reset the image to the state it was in when you first dragged it into PureRef. That means the shortcut will reset things like scaling and rotation.
Ctrl + U Open the PureRef settings.

Expand Your Creative Potential With Mood Boards in PureRef

So that’s all you need to know about downloading PureRef and creating mood boards with it in Windows that will get your creative juices flowing. PureRef allows you to create a mood board of any size for inspiration during projects. Plus, it’s free (for personal and professional use), lightweight and easy to use.

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