Introduction: Castle on a Hill - Pumpkin Carving

This is a quick tutorial on how I carved my castle on a hill, and you can take these ideas and put them into your own design as you see fit.

If you are not into reading all the steps, and just want to watch the "entire" process click this video below. It will show ALL the steps and the process of me carving the pumpkin from start to finish in 1 complete video.

This is my first ever attempt at making a design on a pumpkin, I normally do the basic eyes and mouth, but I wanted to try something different for this Instructable. If I get time I will try to do one more pumpkin carving Instructable so keep a look out. I also included the template I made in a Photoshop format, as well as a .JPEG file.

Step 1: Tools

Short list of tools that will be used in this project.

Pumpkin (not a tool but is required)

Large metal spoon

Large Steak knife

Small paring knife



Scotch tape

while most of these tools are optional, this is a list of what I used.

Step 2: Picking Your Pumpkin and Design

This step is pretty much self explanatory, but you want to think about them both when picking a pumpkin. Don't just pick any pumpkin and don't just pick any design as they both might not match up. Think of your design first, what are you going to make? That will help determine the shape and size of the pumpkin you will need. Nothing is worse than getting a pumpkin and finding out the design you wanted to do, just won't fit right with the pumpkin you picked.

Grabbing a design you want may be tricky, some pictures might have stuff you like, but not everything you wanted. So search the internet, try to make a collage of images that will form your pumpkin design. If you don't have Photoshop, or don't know Photoshop, just print out each image you like, tape them together into 1 final image and use that as your template. Remember when making your design always think about what part is going to be cut out and what is going to be left in, and don't make it too complicated if you are not OK with it. Sometimes less is more.

When going to the market to get a pumpkin, grab the first pumpkin you see that might work, but don't stop there. Continue to look around at all the other pumpkins and keep swapping out the pumpkins till you find the best one for your design.

Step 3: Cutting the Top and Gutting the Pumpkin

Now that you have the pumpkin, tools, and design lets start by cutting the top of the pumpkin. Many like to do the classic jagged edges along the top, but I find just a simple circle with a notch out the back is the best and easiest way. A lot easier lining it up, and easier to cut.

Start by drawing a circle around the top of the pumpkin.

Then in the back make a triangle notch type, and that will be your locating pin when placing the top back on. Once you have that completed, lets get in there with our hands and rip out all the guts from the pumpkin. Followed by the scraping of the inside of the pumpkin with the large metal spoon. Don't throw away the seeds (if you like pumpkin seeds we will be baking them at the end).

Step 4: Pinning the Stencle and Drawing Your Image

This process can go more than one way, people have many different techniques mine will be pretty basic. I start by centering and taping the stencil on the pumpkin. After that I will take the tooth pick and lightly poke though the paper and into the pumpkin, being careful not to go too far in the pumpkin, as this is just to get an idea to where to draw the lines. Once I am confident I have marked all the spots, I will begin drawing on the pumpkin. I will remove the stencil and connect the dots with a "wet erase" marker. What this does is allow me to draw onto the pumpkin and when I am done cutting, all it takes is a wet paper towel to remove all markings. If you use a wet erase marker, be careful as the ink will easily wipe off on your hand as well.

Step 5: Carving the Pumpkin

Now for the part we have been waiting for, carving your pumpkin. I will be using a paring knife to make the incisions and carving out around the design.

We are going to start at the most critical, hard to cut, prone to breaking parts. Starting at the more delicate parts first ensures your pumpkin is still strong enough to hold up and less likely to break off parts when cutting/carving.

Seeing I have bats in-front of the moon, I am not going to be able to cut out the moon. Instead I am going to have to shave the moon while leaving the skin on the pumpkin where the bats will be located. To shave the pumpkin we are going to use the paring knife as well.

Start by making clean cuts around your design, then start chipping away, and work your way around your design.

Step 6: Cleaning Up Your Design: Part 1

Now that you have your pumpkin all carved out and the skin is taken off, now it's time to clean it up. Right now the pumpkin is still a little too thick, as you can see the moon is not glowing that much (hard to see in the dark). You want to start by placing a candle inside your pumpkin, put the lid on, so you know how much to shave off until you start seeing the moon glow. Also when placing the lid on, make sure you don't completely cover it, as you will smother the candle putting out the flame.

Step 7: Cleaning Up Your Design: Part 2

To clean it up all I am doing is using the paring knife once again,
smoothing the outside of the pumpkin. I placed the pumpkin in a dark room (no lights on) with the candle inside so I can see how much has to be taken off. Then I start shaving the outside of the pumpkin now with the lights on, making sure the moon is smooth.

Step 8: Removing More of the Inside

If you are not happy with the way the pumpkin is glowing, and don't really feel like taking more off from the outside. Then grab yourself the spoon you used to clean it out, and start scraping more away from the inside. This will ensure that the outside looks the same, while allowing more light to shine though. It is self explanatory so I won't really be going into a step on this, just thought I would mention it.

Here I will show the before and after of scraping out the inside. I even went ahead and poked out the windows a little bit with a toothpick to help them stand out more.

Step 9: (OPTIONAL) Breathing Hole for the Candle

So this step is completely optional, but if you are using a real candle and not a LED one you will find out by placing the pumpkin lid on top it will smother out the flames due to the fact you didn't cut any holes in the pumpkin. Easy work around this is either 1. Keep the lid just resting on the top and not fully seat it. or 2. Cut yourself a hole in the back of the pumpkin. This will allow oxygen into your pumpkin and allow the candle to continue burning.

If you are going to cut a hole in the back, just cut one the size of a soft ball and position it a little low (about candle height) so the oxygen can easily get to the candle.

Step 10: Baking the Pumpkin Seeds

So if you are the ones that like to bake the pumpkin seeds here is what settings I used. I just tossed all the images of the process into this step to not take up so much room.

  • Start off by tossing the seeds into the sink filled with cold water.
  • Get yourself a colander and start straining out the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin (tossing the pumpkin in one bowl and seeds in another).
  • Once separated, toss the seeds back into the sink with cold water and rise off one more time.
  • Next lay out the seeds on a cookie sheet to air dry. You want to make sure they are completely dry before baking so this could take some time.
  • I placed a little bit of salt in the pan and placed the seeds on top along with some salt on the top as well.
  • Once dry turn your stove on to 375 and bake for 20min, flipping the seeds every 5min.

That's it.

Now I like my seeds plain, but if you want some people do add butter to them, and cook them longer. If you want a golden look and decide to add butter. Cook them for a total of 40min @ 325 (stir them once at 20min) and add about 2 tbs of butter to the mix.

Thank you for taking the time in reading my tutorial hope it gave you ideas on how to do your own pumpkin. If you like please don't forget to vote.

Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016

Participated in the
Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016