Disciples Set Design

I created this set design for an 8-week series I wrote called Disciples. In the Disciples Series, kids will learn about different disciples of Jesus each week and how to become better followers of Jesus. Kids will watch movie clips from Despicable Me movies each week, and learn from the minions about how to be faithful followers. The cost for this set design was easily less than $50. Most of the decorations for this set design were homemade, so you don’t need to purchase a lot to make it happen in your ministry. This set design is based off some of the decorations we created for a theme day we called “Minion Day”. You can check out this post for more info on what we did for Minion Day. Our stage for this set design looks simple, but we did spend a lot of time creating the stand up minions and the large film strips on each side of the big screen.

The stand up minions are about four feet tall and are basically homemade cardboard cut-outs. We made four minions total, two larger ones for the main stage and two smaller ones for the 1st-2nd grade room. They were made using large sheets of cardboard I got for free from Sam’s Club, yellow and blue poster board, black and white craft foam, and brown, black and silver sharpies. First, I free-handed the basic shapes of the minions on the sheets of cardboard in pencil. I wanted to make two of the minions tall, thin, and with one eye, and the other two minions shorter, squatty, and with two eyes. Once I had the basic shapes, I cut them out with an x-acto knife. Next, comes the time-consuming part of the process: making all the little pieces of the minions. I made the body and arms out of yellow poster board and the overalls out of blue poster board. I traced the cardboard cut-out onto yellow poster board, then cut it out using scissors. The poster board isn’t wide enough to make the body and arms in one piece so I had to do the arms as separate pieces. I traced the part of the body the overalls would cover onto the blue poster board, then free-handed the overalls in pencil, and cut them out with scissors. I also made a small pocket shape for the front of the overalls. I decided to make all the other pieces out of craft foam to make them look more three-dimensional. I traced the hands and feet to make the basic shapes of the gloves and boots out of black craft foam. Make sure you make them bigger than the actual feet and hands to ensure you don’t have cardboard showing. I made a big black circle for the Gru symbol and two smaller black circles for the buttons on the overalls. I drew the Gru symbol onto the big black circle using a silver sharpie. I also added some black “stitching” on the overalls using a black sharpie after I took the pictures above. The goggles were somewhat time-consuming to make, but they turned out great. I traced a large circular container to make the goggle shapes, then traced a slightly smaller circular container to make the inside line of the goggles. I filled those lines in with silver sharpie to make the goggles. I used a yellow sharpie to make the eye lids and black and brown sharpies to make the eyeballs. I traced a small coin to get a perfect circle for the brown part of the eyes. I measured the remaining space on the sides of the minion faces and made two black strips for each side of the goggles out of black craft foam. When I had all my pieces done, I hot glued them all to the cardboard pieces. You can either cut a long piece of cardboard for the stand for each minion and hot glue them to the back, or use any pre-made wooden stand. It is a bit tedious and time-consuming to create the minions, but they are so cute when they are complete.

Now, let’s talk about those film strips. Surprisingly, they were easier to create than the minions. We decided to create two film strips because we wanted to hang one on either side of the center screen. You could definitely only make one and use it centered or even as a stand up on your stage instead of mounting it. The backing of the film strips is a 4×8 ft. piece of 3/4 inch insulation foam from Lowe’s. We purchased the white foam with the silver coating on the front. I removed the silver coating carefully even though we were planning on covering it because I had future plans for creating screens out of them when I was finished with using them as film strips. More on that in a future set design post. After I removed the silver coating, we covered the foam board with black kraft paper. You will need two people to do this quickly and effectively. If you use a four-foot wide kraft paper roll it will be exactly the right width to cover it without cutting. I always keep a roll of this stuff handy because I use it all the time for set designs. Secure the black paper to the foam board with high quality tape. I would suggest either gorilla or gaff tape to make sure it stays put. The rest of this project is a piece of cake. The large white squares are 22×28 inch pieces of white poster board. I was able to pick these up for four for $1 at Hobby Lobby, but you can always get white poster board two for $1 at the Dollar Tree or Walmart. I didn’t have to cut them down at all! Four pieces of poster board fit perfectly. I used a combination of double-sided duct tape and hot glue to secure the pieces of poster board to the paper. Overkill? Maybe, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to fall apart. The small white squares around the edges of the film strips are pieces of white cardstock cut into quarters. I used a paper cutter to make the edges cleaner and save time. I only used hot glue to attach the pieces of cardstock since they were smaller and lightweight. The pieces of foam board were around $8 each at Lowe’s, the poster board cost me $1 per film strip, and I already had the roll of black kraft paper and cardstock on hand. In total, I spent $18 to create two 4×8 ft. film strips.

You may have noticed in the picture of the stage above that we turned the film strips into screens. We used ProPresenter to create the masked images for each film strip. We found two cheap projectors to use just for this project. You don’t need a very bright bulb for this because you aren’t changing the images or projecting lyrics on them. We used this same concept for our Lights, Camera, Action Series which will be posting about shortly.

Our 1st-2nd grade room didn’t need a lot of decor. We put the two smaller stand up minions on each side of the “stage”. My favorite and easiest decoration we made were our minion lanterns that we hung around the main kid’s room from the ceiling. I bought a 12 pack of yellow lanterns and some paper minion goggles on Amazon, taped the goggles to the lanterns, and hung them. We saved two of the minion lanterns for this room to add to our banner.

The full 8-week Disciples Series will be available soon.