This is my next Instructable for pumpkin carving.... How to carve The Dark Knight. This is an extremely detailed carving. Feel free to use my pattern if you want to give it a shot!
Step 1: Step 1: Choose Your Image.
In this case, I chose an interesting image of Christian Bale as The Dark Knight. It is important to pick an image that has enough contrast to allow for good light/shadow interplay. For Batman, the light playing off his armor provides some excellent (but challenging) details that I thought would show up amazingly well on my pumpkin. His strong stance and look in general also makes for a great presence when lit.
Image credit: Google search, DC comics, Warner Bros.
Step 2: Step 2: Draw Your Pattern
For most of my patterns I get a basic outline of the character and then start deciding how much detail is going to be in the pattern. In general I try to keep details based off the "hard" lines in the original picture. So essentially anything that is easily discernable in the original picture whether it be a shadow, and edge of a piece of armor, or what have, are details that will make it into the pattern.
Once the pattern is drawn, you then have to chose what will stay and what will go. To get detailed pumpkins like this one you have to utilize different carving depths. I usually use a 4 depth system:
1 Pumpkin that will be left in completely, skin and all (Black)
2 Just the skin removed (Grey)
3 Skin plus some flesh removed Light grey (White)
4 All skin and flesh removed (orange)
Step 3: Step 3: Tape the Pattern to the Pumpkin.
This step is sort of self explanatory, but it can still be tricky. The hard part about a pumpkin is that it isn't usually flat. As a result the pattern can be distorted if you don't take some precautions.
The key here is that you will have to start at one area (usually the top for me) and tape there. Then you should sort of mold the paper around the pumpkin so the main image is not distorted. To do this I make several cuts and folds in the non-essential portions of the pattern paper as I smooth the main image over the surface.
You can see a large cut in the left side of the pattern. The more cuts and folds made in the non-essential parts of the pattern the smoother the main image will be.
Step 4: Step 4: Trace Over the Pattern.
To transfer my pattern to the pumpkin, I employ yet another simple technique. I simply trace over my pattern with a pen. This causes an indentation into the pumpkin skin that can be seen once the pattern is removed. In the attached pictures you can see the indentations that are left in the pumpkin skin after I traced over it and removed the pattern. The pictures show the face portion of Batman.
Step 5: Step 5: Trace Over the Transfer.
Again, this is actually a very easy step, but after removing the pattern I then simply take a fine tipped Sharpie and trace over the indentations.
Step 6: Step 6: Spray Paint the Pumpkin
So this is a new step I am recommending this year. After testing the lighting within the pumpkin, I realized the pumpkin allowed way too much light through it's skin, and the light was leaking very non-uniformly. As a result I recommend spray painting the pumpkin a light color. This allows the pattern to show through while at the same time evening out the lighting through the pumpkin skin and flesh.
Step 7: Step 7: Get to Carving!
Now this is the toughest part for actual explanation. In essence the X-Acto knife is used for essentially everything.
I simply started at the head and moved down. For the areas where just skin is removed, I would use the sharp tipped X-acto blade to cut along the outline, then use one of the flattened blades to just sort of "plane" the skin away.
For portions where skin AND flesh is removed (white areas on the pattern from step 2) I would use the sharp-tipped X-acto blade to cut about 1/4 cm into the flesh, then I would just turn the knife sideways to pop the pieces out. I also like to employ a Dremel tools for some of the very fine carving. It's quick and easy.
The orange areas on the pattern are simply cut with a serrated pumpkin carving blade.
As you go along stick a light into the pumpkin intermittently to test the look.
These basic rules of carving are essentially applied to the entire pumpkin simply following the color coding established in Step 2. The pictures provided show the partially finished Batman, then the fully finished Batman, but with no background yet.
Step 8: Step 8: Add the Background
This pumpkin needed a little something extra, so I decided to add a background. Again, the effect looks pretty detailed, but it was actually pretty easy. I first added the "Bat Signal" by drawing a rough Bat outline with a irregular oval around it. I then simply took a grinding tool and the Dremel and carved roughly around the Bat outline to allow light to shine through around it. This provided the spotlight type effect. The remaining background was simply done by using the grinding tool to roughly carve out an irregular pattern around Batman's outline and the Dremel for quick removal of pumpkin flesh. I carved deeper into the pumpkin very close to his back to give the diffused light look, and carved shallower as I moved farther away from the outline.
Step 9: Step 9: Light the Pumpkin
For a pumpkin like this a simple candle is just not bright enough to give the required lighting effect. Cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin to allow for insertion of an electrical light source.
To keep the pumpkin from heating to the point of ruin, I prefer to use a simple table lamp with a fluorescent bulb with a cool (bluer), rather than warm (more orange), spectrum
Step 10: Step 10: Turn Off the Lights and Enjoy!