Flat Lay Material Board, what is it and why the big hype?

Learn how a digital material board can improve your productivity.

Digital Material Board what is it and why the big hype

Flat lay is the term used when a sample or item is viewed from the top. It has become increasingly popular on Pinterest and Instagram, and often called 'material boards'.

It's generally minimalist and simple, containing only key samples of real items like a fabric swatch, tile, mosaic, wallpaper, flooring sample including a small detail like a eucalyptus branch, arranged in a well-thought composition.

Creating and presenting flat lay moodboards is a great way to share digital samples to your client if you're not able to meet face to face to show them physical samples.

Here's an example of a digital flat lay material board created using SampleBoard.

Digital Material Board what is it and why the big hype SampleBoard Blog

The trick to creating a beautiful flat lay material mood is to: 

  • use samples that have been photographed from the top, a birds-eye-view
  • combine a palette of rich materials, as real life as possible
  • overlap the objects, keeping the items relatively in proportion
  • purposefully use the larger white space around the arrangement, this allows it to pop
  • stick with formal geometry, ie stick with a grid and orthogonal layout to make the board feel more organised
  • don't over-clutter your board, less is more in this case, stick to 8-10 items
Flat Lay Material Boards what is it and why the big hype SampleBoard Blog

Tools to use in SampleBoard software to create professional flat lay boards:

  • use the crop tool to define dimensions, ie make an item square or rectangular
  • use the drop-shadow tool in the Basic Edits menu for each image sample to create the sense of depth and shadow you would get if you had to take a photo in real life, this is critical!
  • we recommend using the portrait orientation canvas size as this is better suited to share via Instagram and Pinterest, but you can also create beautiful flat lays using a landscape orientation
  • use the background clipper to remove the background from images
  • you can search for samples of fabric, flooring and wallpaper, already perfect for use in flat lay material boards, under the Gallery section, within the Creator
Digital Material Board what is it and why the big hype SampleBoard Blog

As always, the more you practice and source the web for continuous inspiration, the better your creative eye and in turn moodboards will become.

Happy creating!

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