Life Apps Set Design (Giant iPhone tutorial)

Life Apps Set Design (Giant iPhone tutorial)

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I created this set design for a 9-week series on the fruit of the Spirit I am currently writing called, Life Apps. Each week, we will look at a different life app (fruit of the Spirit) to see how we can use it in our daily lives. Inspiration for this set design began with my idea to create giant iPhones as the big wow factor. I wanted them to be so big that even the parents would want to stop in the kid's room to take a picture with a giant iPhone. The rest of the set design is basically the individual apps we created for each week of the series. Cost for this set design was extremely low, coming in at around $36, since I already had the foam for the iPhones on hand. The reaction to this set design and the Life Apps series has been astounding. Kids, teenagers, and parents have given me so many compliments, and I have had many people asking me where I got the props from. It's always fun to see their faces when I tell them I made them.

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The picture above shows all the elements of the Life Apps set design. As you can see, I kept it simple and clean. When you have two 8-foot tall iPhones, you don't need a lot else. Let's take a look at the small decorations before I get into the tutorial on how to make the giant iPhones. Our creative team at church created an app graphic for each of the life apps to use for decor, so there are nine life apps in total. For the life apps around the large screen and hanging around the room, we enlarged these images in Photoshop onto two sheets of 11x17 paper. This puts half of the app on one sheet of paper and the other half on the other sheet of paper. If you don't have Photoshop, I believe you can do the same thing with GIMP or blockposters.com, and you can make your images as big as you want. Once you have printed the life apps out, you will need to cut them out, line them up, and tape them together with clear tape. The life apps around the screen are backed with cardboard. I used old cardboard boxes from my previous set design and cut the shapes out with an x-acto knife. I taped them to the trussing and bottom of my screen using duct tape. If you are wanting to tape them to the wall, you will want to use tape that will not take the paint off the wall. The life apps hanging around the room are two-sided. It is a bit tricky to get them just right, with no white showing on either side. I taped two of the same app together and cut around the edges until there was no white showing, then I taped them together on each side with clear tape. I wanted them to be less flimsy so I took them to a teacher supply store in the area to laminate them. It cost $16 to laminate all nine of the hanging two-sided life apps as well as all of the apps on the screens of the iPhones. Laminating them made them look ten times better, and gave them a nice glossy shine. I punched a hole in the top of each of the apps using a single hole punch and strung them from the ceiling with clear fishing line. Always knot your fishing line at least three times to avoid them falling down.

Now, let's take a look at how to create the giant iPhones. I will start by saying that these are very impressive looking props, but anyone can create them if they have a little patience. It doesn't require any artistic or drawing abilities to put these together. I chose to create two iPhones for my set to balance out the stage. I also planned on using the iPhones to tie in our team colors for the series. We have team gold and team silver as our teams, so I decided to create one silver iPhone and one gold iPhone. You can choose to only make one if that is all your space allows. Also, feel free to modify this down to a smaller size to fit in your space

Supplies needed:

  • (2) 4x8' Foam Insulation Board (I used silver)
  • (2) Large Cans of Black Spray Paint (I used Krylon 25% more Black Satin Cover Maxx Spray Paint)
  • (2) Large Rolls of Painter's Tape (you will use more than you think)
  • (2) Bottles of Gold Acrylic Paint (I used FolkArt 2oz bottles from Walmart)
  • Small Paint Brushes or Foam Brushes
  • A Black Sharpie
  • Apps for print 11x17 (printed, cut and laminated)
  • Duct tape or velcro (for adhering apps)
  • A Hot Knife for cutting foam (or an x-acto knife if needed)
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Assemble your supplies and prepare to spend a long day or two completing this project. I chose to use the silver-coated foam insulation board for both of my iPhones because it was what I already had on hand. It was very helpful when it came to making the silver iPhone because there was no additional acrylic paint required. It may have made the gold iPhone more difficult, though. If you have plain white foam board or large pieces of cardboard on hand, you could use those instead. I began my project by taping off the outside edges to create the inside "screen" on each of the boards. Make sure your tape is well-sealed to the board before you start painting it. You will need lots of painter's tape for this project, but when I was finished, the lines were flawless. Once the board were completely taped off, I spray-painted the screens with black paint. You will need at least one large bottle of spray paint to do one of your phones. The silver material required a lot of paint to get a good coat on it, but once they were dry, they looked perfect. Allow your boards to dry completely before removing the painter's tape.

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When the paint is dry, you can remove the tape carefully. The tape stuck to the edges of the silver coating pretty well, so I had to be very careful not to rip it in the process. Once the tape is removed, you will want to round off the edges of the corners of your boards before doing anything else. I used a hot knife for cutting foam to round off the edges, but if you are in a pinch you could use an x-acto knife. Don't stress about making them perfect, mine definitely were not. At this point, you can choose what color you want to do for the border of your iPhones. I chose silver and gold, but you can do whatever you like. If you're feeling tired and lazy, your best option is to go with silver. If you chose to use the silver coated foam insulation board, you will not need to paint the border at all. My initial idea for painting the border of the gold iPhone was to tape off the center once it was painted and use gold spray paint, but I quickly realized that the painter's tape took the black spray paint off of the foam board, and had to regroup. It was a little tedious, but I ended up hand-painting the gold border with a paint brush and some gold acrylic paint. It turned out really well. For the home button, camera, and receiver details on the front, I simply used a black sharpie to draw them on. I used a red solo cup to trace the circle for the home button and used a ruler to create straight lines for the receiver.

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Now, it's time to get your apps ready to go on the screens. I used the nine life apps as well as eleven other popular iPhone apps for the twenty apps I put on each screen. I printed these images, cut them out, took them to the teacher supply store to laminate them, cut them out again, and they were ready to go. You could choose to print them on card stock, and forgo laminating them, but the shine the lamination gave them was worth the extra effort in my opinion. You can choose to put your apps in any order you like. I made my iPhones' apps mirror each other for symmetry. I decided to go the easy and cheap route for attaching the apps to the phones. I used a piece of duct tape rolled to make it double-sided on each side of each of the apps. It worked well, it was quick, and no one can see the tape. If you want to make your apps interchangeable, you can choose to use velcro or command strips for attaching your apps. I decided that it wasn't necessary, and would cost too much money.

I hope this set design was helpful to you. If you are using this set design in your kid's ministry, stay tuned for my Life Apps curriculum, being released in early October. It will be a completely free resource for you to use in your ministry.

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