How to Carve a 3 Dimensional Face Into a Pumpkin

Written by ann lapan
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How to Carve a 3 Dimensional Face Into a Pumpkin
The technique for carving 3D faces can be used to carve 3D scenes. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Pumpkin carving has come a long way. Instead of a simple jack-o-lantern, with triangular eyes and nose and a scary mouth, Halloween pumpkin are often works of art, depicting traditional scary holiday scenes, as well as movie or cartoon characters, phrases and other images. Carving a pumpkin that looks fantastic may seem like a challenge. However, with patience, turning an image of a face into a three-dimensional carving can easily be accomplished. The right tools and a precise template or stencil also make the task easier.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pumpkin carving saw or serrated knife
  • Pumpkin scraping tool or large spoon
  • Pumpkin stencil, pattern or template
  • Tape
  • Thumbtack or pumpkin hole-poking tool
  • Small knife

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  1. 1

    Use a small pumpkin carving saw or serrated knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin, making a circle around the stem. Remove this top piece and set it aside.

  2. 2

    Hollow out the pumpkin. Use a pumpkin-scraping tool or large spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and stringy inner pieces of the pumpkin. You also can use the tool to gently scrape the inside walls of the pumpkin. This makes them smooth and slightly thinner, which will help allow light to pass through.

  3. 3

    Place a pumpkin stencil or pattern over the pumpkin in the spot you want to carve. Use several pieces of tape to hold the pattern in place. You may need to make small cuts at the edges of the pattern to flatten it onto the pumpkin. A pattern that will give you a three-dimensional face will have white, grey and black areas. The black areas are where you'll carve all the way through. Gray areas are where you'll carve away only the skin and a thin layer of pumpkin flesh. White areas will remain uncarved. Pumpkin stencils can be created from an existing photo using a computer program or can be found ready to go.

  4. 4

    Poke holes along all the lines of the stencil, where you'll be carving, with a small, sharp object. A thumbtack works well. Pumpkin-poking tools also can be used. Use the holes to trace the pattern.

  5. 5

    Remove the pattern. Keep it whole, so you can look at it as you carve. You'll need it to see which areas you carve all the way through, and which you carve only through the skin.

  6. 6

    Scrape away the "grey" areas of the pattern, the areas where you won't carve all the way through. Use a small knife, sharp spoon or a small pumpkin-scraping tool. Scrape away only the skin and a small layer of flesh underneath.

  7. 7

    Cut around the "black" areas, the areas where you'll cut all the way through the flesh, using a small knife. Go slowly and use precise cuts to retain the pattern.

Tips and warnings

  • You can scrape away different layers of flesh for an even more detailed three-dimensional appearance. The carving will appear 3D when seen in the light or when lit from behind.

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