It’s that time of year again where ghouls, goblins, and ghosts head out with their parents to celebrate Halloween with bags of candy goodness. As they travel from home to home there is one decoration that is most assuredly present on the porch, window, or outside in the hallway: the Jack-o’-lantern.
If you’re like me, your pumpkin is carved looking like the diagram drawn on the back of Charlie Brown’s head in the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, however some more artistic individuals produce some truly amazing carved fruit (yep, pumpkin is a fruit, in fact it’s a berry!).
It’s with the more artistic carvings in mind that I’ve compiled this list of tutorials that — with the help of some common household tools and utensils — will help turn your pumpkin into something other than a collection of triangles.
This design comes from an unknown ChopCow user with their take on the popular Cannibalistic Pumpkin. For this carving, all that is needed is a pair of pumpkins (large/small), large knife, small steak knife, a washable marker, and a pair of spoons (again large/small). Use the marker to draw the sketch but remember to leave enough room for the smaller pumpkin inside the mouth and then hollow out the inside.
The next step is to hollow out the mouth area using the large knife and then finish the finer details (teeth, etc.) using the smaller steak knife. This is the most difficult part as it requires ‘fine skinning’ to get the teeth to look cartoonish and realistic. The same technique is used for cutting and shaping the eyes on both the large and smaller pumpkin. The key is taking it slow and methodical to achieve the desired look.
For a complete walkthrough visit the step-by-step tutorial.
This next tutorial is geared more for the intermediate and professional carvers as it’s done using a freehand technique rather than relying on a stencil. Designed by Kenny from 3-D Head Custom Paints, his 3-D Pumpkin was designed using various kinds of scrappers, gougers, and Exacto knives to give it a zombie style face with the skin removed on one side.
Kenny starts his design by removing the skin on one side and then gouging out the eye socket and jaw using a small scrapper (meant for clay). He then moves on to the teeth where he uses an Exacto knife to cut the outline and then uses a tiny scrapper to give them definition.
What’s interesting is that Kenny doesn’t hollow out the inside before he starts carving, which allows him to cut deeper into the skin without cutting straight through. After having shaped the skull side of the pumpkin, he then matched the carved side to the skin-on side and then airbrushed the recesses using different colored paint to achieve that scary Halloween look.
While this next tutorial may be old, it’s no less impressive. I am talking about Windell Oskay’s Robotic Dalek Pumpkin, which is actually radio-controlled and can move and articulate its head. The pumpkin itself is hollowed out like a traditional carving, however it’s done upside down, allowing the ‘head’ to be more of an uniform shape. A melon baller was used to provide the sensor-spheres, which are attached using toothpicks. The telescopic eyestalk and mechanical ears are made of carrot and secured by carving a home into the pumpkin.
The weapon and suction cup appendages are just what they appear to be: a meat thermometer and a beater from a hand-mixer. Inside the pumpkin are several servo motors that, along with an office chair castor connected to a circuit board base, control the pumpkin’s movement. The motors are controlled using a Hitec Focus III singlestick system. A third servo motor connected to a large plastic bearing with a worm-gear mechanism controls the head movement, adding to its overall uniqueness.
Head here to see a complete walkthrough on how Oskay built his pumpkin.
Minions are currently all the rage with kids everywhere, which makes YouTube user OikoEco’s pumpkin carving tutorial perfect for this Halloween. He makes use of shading to make the pumpkin seem more realistic along with an easy to use stencil that is color-coded to help differentiate between the shaded and non-shaded areas during carving. Instead of traditional kitchen knives, OikoEco makes use of little saws, woodworking chisels and even flathead screwdrivers- everything you might find in a toolbox.
The first thing in the carving process begins by placing the stencil on the pumpkin, securing it with tape, and then punching in tiny holes using a thumbtack to transfer the pattern over. This provides a kind of cutting diagram to use while carving. OikoEco then uses a box-cutter to cut the pattern into the pumpkin and begins the shading process using a chisel and flathead screwdriver. Once the shading is complete, he then cuts out the remaining pieces using a tiny fine saw so as not to accidentally remove any of the delicate pieces that need to remain attached.
This last pumpkin carving tutorial is incredibly easy to do (even though it may be time consuming) but no less impressive when finished. Luis Linares’ Tinker Bell Pixie Dust carving begins by using a stencil silhouette of the famous Disney character, which is provided on Luis’ Instructables page. The image is transferred using the same thumbtack method mentioned earlier, however the actual cutting is done using tiny handsaws and a hot knife — one for the rough cuts and the other for the fine detailed work.
The pixie dust is done using a cordless drill with 1/16 and 1/18-inch bits to produce the tiny holes in any pattern you may desire. Finally, the carving is lit up using a small light bulb or even a few LEDs if you prefer, which gives it that magical Disney look guaranteed to bring over the trick or treaters!
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