Introduction: Custom Template for Pumkin Carving | With Unique Tips and Tricks

About: I am a full time Speech Language Pathologist that loves DIY on the side! My wife and two children provide me with lots of fun ideas and projects to continuously work on. I love 3D/3D printing, Origami, and Pai…

I always love the time of the year when pumpkin carving comes around. It is one of my most treasured memories and I look forward to designing and carving a new pumpkin every year.

Sometimes the design I want just isn't available, but have no fear we will figure out how to do this together. In this Tutorial I will show you two different ways to make your own custom template for carving a pumpkin. Then I will go into some specific details about pumpkins, carving tools, and some of my own personal tricks.

This year I wanted to carve the two cute characters from some popular TV series. The first one is "The Child" from the Mandalorian and the other is "Bumpy" from the new Netflix series Camp Cretaceous.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

For this project you will need the following items:

  • A pumpkin (The size is completely up to you)
  • Tape
  • Pumpkin carving tools (a simple kit from store will have each item you need)*
  • An X-acto blade knife
  • A template of the design you wish to carve- this will either be drawn or printed
  • A printer
  • Tracing paper
  • regular printer paper (or any paper really)
  • A needle tool- I didn't take a picture of this tool but you can see it in the video of the process

In the photos I have summarized what each tool is and its function in this project. Some of the other less explicit items that are necessary but usually most people have them are a space to work at, a computer, and very rudimentary computer skills.

*If you can't get the tools in a kit you can always use kitchen items like knives and spoons, the delicate details will just be more difficult.

If you really want to make things simple here is a link to simplest and least expensive kit on

Step 2: How to Use Microsoft Paint | Find and Print Your Own Template

This video shows you how to grab an image from the internet and put it in paint in order to print it larger. For "The Child" I used 2 pages of paper so he would be large enough for the pumpkin.

You don't have to use paint and could use any image editing software. I am just super familiar with Paint and like the program.

This is the first of the two methods and is the more complicated of the two, but isn't daunting.

First, I measured the pumpkin to know how large I needed to print the image.

Second, I printed the image out using Paint and put the two pieces of paper together so it was one solid image.

Third, I attached the template to the pumpkin.

Step 3: Draw Your Own Template

The second, and probably easiest method, as long as you are confident in your drawing/tracing skills is drawing the template. I used "Bumpy" for this style of template design. At first I was going to try to draw him as a vector style using a sharpie on printer paper, but instead got some tracing paper and traced the image I printed. Why struggle when you can do it in an easier way.

There was no way I was going to find a simple vector or silhouette style image of "Bumpy" because it is too recent and new. This was the perfect solution to get the image I wanted onto the pumpkin.

There is a PDF of my template if you wanted to carve him as well. Just right click the fourth image and save or print it!

Step 4: Prepare the Pumpkin for Carving

There are a few important steps to take when preparing the pumpkin.

  1. DON'T cut the pumpkin open yet! Most people like to get right to cutting open the top of the pumpkin, getting all of the seeds out, and then carving the face. There are two important things to consider when preparing your pumpkin. First, the moment you cut open the pumpkin from the top it starts to die. Second, you need to know what parts of the pumpkin you are cutting out.*
  2. Attach the template. After deciding on what template styles you are going to use tape, or adhere some other way, the template to the pumpkin.
  3. The most crucial part to preparing the pumpkin, aside from not opening it up yet, is to score the entire thing. The video attached is at 8x speed so I really took my time with scoring the entire template onto the pumpkin. This is when the probe, needle, and spur tool all come in very handy.

A note to mention is to take your time with this step. If you can, put a mark every few millimeters to really get a view of your template when you remove it. Patience is key here so just take your time and enjoy this part of the project; it will pay off in the end.

*You will notice because you didn't cut the top open that the pumpkin will "bleed" little drops. This is why we use a paper template that will not smudge off. If you had just drawn on with pen then the little oozing that occurs would screw up your template.

Step 5: Carve the Pumpkin!

Finally, after deciding on which of the template types to use and preparing the pumpkin by scoring it, now is the time to carve.

NOW you can open up the top of the pumpkin. Make sure to do so at more of a 45 degree angle to allow the top to sit well after when you want to close it.

Some tips and tricks:

1. Use the X-acto knife to score along all of your pin holes first. This will help to guide you when you actually cut with a deeper bladed knife. You will also start to see the areas that you cut get darker as the pumpkin's skin is being exposed to oxygen.

2. When cutting out a section, make sure to know what it is connected to so you don't accidentally cut a giant hole in the pumpkin; speaking from experience.

3. When cutting out a section cut just below the score line you did to allow a little space for the shallow cut and deep cut to come together, giving you a nice clean area when the piece pops out.

4. My all time favorite trick that a lot of people know, Carve shallow cuts with the X-acto blade and then scrape out the inside of the pumpkin. The walls of the pumpkin are anywhere from 1-1 1/2 inches thick. Using a spoon or other tool, scrape and grind the pulp of the walls away until it is about 1/2-1/4 inch thick. This allows the pumpkin to glow anywhere you put a cut or scraped away it's skin.

5. Last, but not least, if you cut the skin away light will shine through. If you followed the steps 1-4 then anywhere on the pumpkin that skin is gone you should see light shining through. Even if it is just a sliver of skin gone. This is great to know when you are working because sometimes you think "this isn't deep enough" but trust me it is.

And that is what I have to share with you. I hope you learned something new from this instructable and would love to see what people come up with for designs and templates. Happy Halloween everyone!

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