DIY Pumpkin Carving Patterns -

DIY Pumpkin Carving Patterns

Drawing designs and creating my own Pumpkin Carving Patterns is how I spend my October, until it is finally time to begin the gutting and carving work. You can make your own patterns too. It matters not if the design is simple or extremely intricate, I follow the same process.

I keep a book of my pumpkin carving patterns. I draw on regular 8-1/2 x 11 inch printer paper, then place all of my drawings / patterns into page protectors and keep them in a three-ring binder. When I decide which patterns will be carved, I make a photo copy. The photo copy keeps my original drawing safe for future use, and allows me to not only take it out shopping for Perfect Pumpkin Picking, but change the size scale of the design to fit my pumpkin needs. Photo copies are also great for pumpkin carving parties!

Pumpkin Carving Patterns: The Process

PC Patterns - Step One -

  1. Decide on a Design.
  2. Draw it lightly (free-hand, tracing, however works best for you) using a pencil and good eraser.
  3. Evaluate your design for areas of silhouette and carving.
  4. ALWAYS  BE THINKING as you plan your pattern. You do not want to cut out the whites of your eyes just to have your pupils fall out! Remember that things need to connect to keep your design in tact (we’ll go over this more later).
  5. Pumpkin Carving Patterns are like photograph negatives. What is light on the pattern will be dark when the pumpkin is lit. That means that the black areas will be what gets cut-out, and the white areas will be left alone. The differing shades of grey will be scraped or carved down in varying degrees–the lightest areas with the least scraping and the darker areas with the most scraping. (see the graphic below under the carved designs section)

I have two examples for you, the “Witch Walking a Cat” is a silhouette design (like “Hocus Pocus“), where the “Owl Witch on a Broomstick” is more of a carved design (like “Brunhilda“).

The Silhouette:

Pumpkin Carving Patterns - The Silhouette -

Think of the silhouette as something that is backlit. So, the main design will be black or dark with light shining around the design.

    • Create an area for your back-lighting. You can see in the first image above, that I drew a line around my design.
    • Figure out if there will be any areas that are completely cut out or shaded. In this case, the only complete cut-out is the eyes of the owl. The owl also has a tiny bit of shading.

Witch Walking Owl close-up -

  • Refine the lines of the design.
  • Shade accordingly.

Some of these types of designs will have large cut-out areas, this pumpkin carving pattern is darkly shaded. It will get a deep scraping to allow the light to silhouette the design.

The Carved Design:

Owl Witch on a Broomstick progression -

Carved designs will have multiple layers of carving, from nothing at all to barely scraped to medium and deep scrapings to complete cut-outs. When you create these patterns, you need to have a way to differentiate the various areas of carving depths. As mentioned above, patterns are like negatives and as such, the white areas will be the areas with the skin left in tact, and the black areas will be cut out. I use stripes and shading to identify the other varied depths of carving for my Pumpkin Carving Patterns.

Pumpkin Carving Pattern - Shading Plan -

White areas with stripes will be barely scraped. Shaded areas with stripes will be heavily scraped. The more stripes (on white or black), the more scraping is done. White areas with double striping would not be scraped as much as a lightly shaded area.

So, let’s walk through the steps of creating a carved design pattern.

  • The carved design can sometimes stand on its own without a carved or scraped area around it. I chose to create more of a scene for the Owl Witch on a Broomstick; and therefore, drew a line around the owl. I added clouds and a partial moon to set the scene.
  • Decide what areas will be cut out or scraped.
  • PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to what you are wanting to cut out so that you do not detach parts of your design by mistake. (ie. Pupils in eyes. In the Owl Witch the pupils are set in the middle of the eyes. If the whites of the eyes were cut out, the pupils would fall out too, so the whites are deeply scraped instead. If you want to cut out the whites of the eyes, draw your pupils on the edge of the whites so the cut out part would not be a full circle, leaving the pupils attached.)

Pumpkin Eyes -

  • You also want to be sure to attach the design so it does not collapse. You will notice above how there are cut-out areas beneath the wings, but the broomstick is attached at the handle and at the broom end. Also, the area above the wings and around the hat are very deeply scraped instead of cut away providing stability to the design.

I hope you found this Pumpkin Carving Patterns DIY Tutorial informative and helpful. Let me know if I can clarify or answer any other questions you may have.

Have you ever made your own Pumpkin Carving Patterns?

Do you have a design in mind that you’d like to try?




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