Step 5: Transfer the Pattern
For this step you'll need the masking tape and the push pin/poking tool. Set your pumpkin on a flat surface, and hold the pattern up to it so that it is aligned how you want it (usually perfectly vertical). Take two pieces of tape and stick either the top and bottom or both sides of the pattern onto the pumpkin. Now, take the pumpkin and hold it in your lap, because this part is fiddly.
On the sides that aren't taped, grab the pattern sheet where the pattern lines come closest to the edge of the paper. Tape the paper down in those spots. The paper should now be taped down in four places, one on each side.
The pattern sheet will probably be folded like crazy now. To get the rest of the pattern flush with the pumpkin surface, tear or cut the pattern using lines radiating from the center of the pattern, in locations where there are no pattern lines. Fold the pattern sheet over itself, and tape it down. It's kinda like Origami.
Work your way all the way around the pattern sheet, cutting small lines and folding the sheet, so that every part of the pattern is flush with the pumpkin's surface. When you're folding, make sure no pattern lines overlap. In places where this is impossible to avoid, try making the pattern overlap in such a way that you can find an "average" line. A good example of this is a full moon background on a pattern - once everything is stuck down the moon might not be perfectly round - just use a marker to re-draw that line so that it is round again.
Taping down the pattern can be tricky at first, but be patient and think ahead. Remember that the pattern is disposable (you did make photocopies, right?) and that you can fold it however you like. After one or two pumpkins it'll be easy.
With the pattern taped down, you can transfer it to the pumpkin using the poking tool. If you bought a kit, there will be a small poking tool that you can use. I prefer to use a straight dentist's pick, or a push pin in a pinch. The metal tips stay sharp forever, compared to the plastic ones found in kits. Simply poke holes along the pattern lines, deep enough to pierce the skin of the pumpkin, but no deeper. Space the holes about 1/8" of an inch apart, and closer (1/16") in small, detailed parts. Make sure a hole gets placed on ever sharp corner.
Once the pattern is transferred, remove the pattern sheet and set it beside you - you'll need it for reference. Depending on the pumpkin, the pattern may or may not be easily visible on the surface of the pumpkin. If it is, then you can go ahead to the carving step. If not, you may want to use a ballpoint pen to connect the dots on some or all of your pattern. I recommend doing this for kids or for inexperienced carvers, or if you have bad eyesight.