Introduction: Shaded Pumpkin Carving
In this tutorial I will walk you through how to carve a 3 color shaded pumpkin using power tools.
Step 1: Shaded Pumpkin Carving Using Power Tools
To get started with carving something a little more complicated than your standard cut out pumpkin first start by searching the internet for a pumpkin carving template based on whatever subject you are looking for. I often make my own patterns these days but that is a different subject.
There are many websites out there where you can buy a pattern but there are also plenty of free patterns on the internet. Look for one that has white, black and gray, 3 colors. Print it and resize it to fit your pumpkin if you have to. Sometimes I need to print a pattern resize and do this a couple of times to get the size right.
I like the glue on method for my patterns. There is way too much cutting and shading to try to keep a pattern in place any other way. Just use regular school glue and glue your pattern on. Once completely dry (at least over night or one day) you can get started. Don't worry, because it's school glue after the carving is done you can just soak the front with a wet paper towel and then easily peel off the remaining bits of pattern.
When starting you have to remember the color code. The black areas are areas that will not be cut. The gray are shaded areas and the white are cut through completely.
I use a dremel power tool with multiple drill bit sizes and a larger shading bit. One really small diameter drill bit for small cuts and corners for sharp lines. I break a lot of these bits so have spares on hand. Try to go slow and not force the bit, this will help. I use another drill bit that's a bit thicker for areas where the cut out is larger and doesn't need such a precise line as well as small shaded areas. The larger grooved type bit is for shading the large areas.
Whether you are using a real pumpkin or an artificial foam pumpkin it is going to be messy so be prepared.
You will carve along the lines of the pattern straight through the paper. When I first start carving, I start with any really small cut through areas. Sometimes it is easier to get these before you start cutting up the pattern a lot. You don't want to cut away the larger areas until the end or else you will weaken your pumpkin and make areas easier to break while doing other work.
Then you want to start shading. When you shade you need to carve partially through the pumpkin but don't cut all of the way through. This can be tricky because whether a real or artificial pumpkin the flesh thickness will vary. You can't go too deep and cut through and you can't go too thin or the light will not shine through. I often shade the pumpkin, then light it and note any areas that need more shade and go back to the tools. This part takes practice and you will get better at making nice smooth carves, but it takes time. When people ask how I make my pumpkins I tell them all the same thing, "Patience and power tools". You just can't rush it.
When starting, I like to shade the small lines or areas first and then move on to larger segments. Just work your way around and try not to rest your hand on areas already carved, this too can lead to breaking of weakened areas.
Once the small cuts and all shaded areas are done you can start with cutting out the larger segments. This is where you are going to really weaken the pumpkin. Start with the smaller cuts and leave the biggest chunks for last. Just go slow and easy here, again patience and practice will help. Don't sweat it, you are going to cut too far or have a small piece break off, it happens. You will get better with time and you will also notice that some small details look great but if they break off, you notice them because you carved the pumpkin but the average person will not even know they are missing or cut through too far in one area, etc.
Once done, light it up and see if you need to go back and shade anything deeper. Sometimes I also use an X-acto knife to go around my cuts or shaded lines to trim any rough or uneven skin. It helps make the really sharp lines you see in the photo above pop out.
Light it up and impress your friends and neighbors. Good luck and happy carving!
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