Hey everyone SKS Props back again with something a little different this time a pumpkin carving/sculpture! This was my first attempt at sculpting a pumpkin but I will say that I had fun I learned a lot! Hopefully some of these steps will help you in your own future pumpkin carving projects.
As far as safety goes we will be dealing with knives and sharp chisels so be careful and watch those fingers.
Lets get started!!!!
Step 1: Reference and Materials
As with all of my prop builds reference material is key. When you start to think about making a prop, costume or pumpkin from a video game, movie, etc. Always try and find as many reference images as you can.
I decided that for my first pumpkin I would attempt to recreate the face of a goblin named Creeper from one of my favorite Disney movies The Black Cauldron.
Step 2: Picking Your Pumpkin
When it comes to pumpkin selection I picked a pumpkin that was about medium size, had a good face, sat well, and was free of bruises and scars.
Step 3: Tools of the Trade
Having never sculpted a pumpkin before I wasn't really sure of the best tools to go with. So I got out my regular clay sculpting tools and figured I would just try all of them until I found the ones I liked best. So my arsenal consisted of multiple loops and chisels.
Step 4: Removing the Rind
First step in carving is removing the rind and getting to the pulp. For this process I discovered that the sharper the loop tool the better. I had two different ones to choose from and I could definitely tell a difference between them. I should also point out that I laid down plastic sheeting on the table and on the floor. Which was a good thing because little pieces of pumpkin skin were flying everywhere.
Step 5: Sketching Out the Face
Normally I would sketch something out on the clay and build up or carve down. Since this is a completely subtractive form of sculpting I figured out that I would need to sketch on the pulp and dig down. Kind of like the masters of old that could see in sculpture within the marble I had to visualize the face in the pumpkin.
I used the side of a chisel to lightly draw out where I would like to see the eyes, nose, and mouth. Remember to not go deep because once you carve out it is difficult to replace the pulp.
Step 6: Digging In
I really wanted to establish the eyes and see how far I could carve in so that the nose and mouth would have a chance to stick out. As far as lighting goes I would recommend having a single overhead source so that all of the undercuts have a nice contrast to the raised flesh.
Step 7: Making Features Start to Look 3D
So once the tear duct of the eye is carved in pretty deep I start to carve out the brow ridge and establish the nose. Normally with clay I would add material to bulk it out but that isn't the cast here. You have to plan that the tip of the nose will be the outermost pumpkin pulp as you carve in.
This step is also where I really carve into the corners of the mouth remembering again the the tooth can't be added it has to be sculpted out.
Re-hydrate - In case your pumpkin has started to dry out a bit have a spray bottle of water handy to mist the surface that will help the flesh from becoming dry and stringy. I added a little bleach to my water so that it would also prevent bacteria growth on the exposed pulp.
Step 8: The Eye
Just like a normal sculpt the sclera, pupil, and iris bring the face to life. The key here is the farther in you carve the more intense the shadow will be. So taking a small circular loop tool I carved out the iris then repeated the process for the pupil. In the next step I ended up carving the pupil all the way through for a better contrast.
Step 9: Stepping Up the Shadows
This was by far my favorite part. I ended up taking a small scalpel blade and cutting really deep trenches into the eyes, mouth, and brows. This made a huge difference in the effect the overhead light was casting. I honestly wanted to do a lot more all over the piece but I knew that it would take away the effect and make the sculpture appear flat.
When you are sculpting the deepest points remember that you have a finite thickness and to make sure that you don't actually cut all of the way through. Unless you want that look. I decided that the pupil would look better completely black so I did punch through to the interior
Step 10: Glamour Shots
For the final shots I sprayed the pumpkin again with water to give it a glossy look. I also found a Halloween themed table cloth and some harvest leaves for the background. The most important part here would be getting the correct angle to take the photo. The pumpkin may look a lot more 3D from straight on rather than just a few degrees off to the side. Also make sure that your light source is strong you want a really dramatic contrast between the light and dark features in the face.
Even though this was my first attempt at a pumpkin sculpture I had lot of fun trying out a new medium and I can't wait to carve another one!!
I hope that you all have enjoyed this build and for more of my creations check out
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