Introduction: Menace to the Pumpkin Patch

Hey Instructable peeps,

It's that time of year again..... In this instructable I'll show you how to create my Psycho-Zombie-Demon pumpkin.  I took lots of pictures and tried my best to be thorough so hold on and enjoy the ride..... If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me directly and ask.  I'll be as helpful as possible.  Most importantly have fun and let your pumpkin picasso shine!!!  

Step 1: Gathering Your Tools

The tools you will use is one of the most important choices you can make.  All pumpkin carving tools Are Not created equal.  I've tried my hand at just about everything and my opinion is that wood carving and clay ribbon tools work the best and will hold up against the pumpkin skin and meat the longest.  Not to mention they will hold the sharp edge you need for details in the long run and are easily cleaned.  I also use good chef and pairing knives along with exacto blades depending the effect I'm tying to achieve.  Basically just spend some time experimenting with the different tools and effects each provides and become comfortable using them.  Lastly pumpkin carving in the manner I will show creates a huge mess.  I mean HUGE!!! You will have pumpkin scraps, scraping and slivers in places you didn't know there was room.  Plan accordingly and have a well lit table with something covering it and a sturdy spot to stabilze your creation.  I use a dense foam block to set my pumpkin on.  The more you carve the more delicate it becomes and less you can grab it.  You don't want it rolling onto the floor like Humpty-Pumpkin.....

Ideally your masterpiece should be completed in one night.  Understand, It will start to decay no matter what as soon as you break the skin.....  If you can't finish in one sitting be prepared to wrap your pumpkin in a wet towl and then cover with a trash bag to preserve moisture and keep it from dehydrating.  I didn't provide a picture of this but it's as simple as it sounds.  Alright lets begin:)!!!!! 

Step 2: Your Pumpkin and Defining Areas

1. Once you pick a good pumpkin, one that is heavy for it's size, without scrapes, dents or bruises and a shape you like it's showtime!!
Draw your design with whatever you want, Sharpie marker (removed with rubbing alcohol), dry erase marker, glass marking pencil....whatever.  Just block out the major shapes to start creating.

2. Next slowly start to outline the area you want to remove with a small ribbon tool removing the line drawn from pumpkin skin.  In my concept I visually needed these lines to be very clean and crisp.  this approach also helps in steps down the road to control what you are removing without the tool slipping and going crazy.

3. After outlining the area you want to remove and add detail too.  It helps if you grab and exacto or sharp knife and trace the edge you already removed to the approx depth you want to remove.  This will help the edge come out clean and keep you from having to do a lot of scraping to clean up the inside edge.  Now grab a larger ribbon tool and begin removing the skin and meat  inside that box approx. 1/8" to 1/4" down into the pumpkin.  You will be doing the same thing with the circles and other areas you want to remove in later steps. 

Step 3: Carving the Mouth and Teeth

Now that you've got the mouth area cleared out it's time to define the size and structure of the teeth and gums.  Keep in mind that if you can keep some actual anatomy in mind when doing this it becomes easier to make it look like it could really exist.  I would even suggest a mirror to look in if you need some reference.

1. The first picture shows how I slowly begin to carve away areas around the teeth to show how they will line up and make sure they fit in the mouth.  At this point you don't need to go very deep or remove much.  Just enough so you can see teeth structure and have a place to refine and add more detail later.

2. The next step you begin to actually take away the meat around the teach and gums leaving what will be the mouth area because it will be empty space eventually.  You begin to carve deeper and remove areas around the teeth and gums to define those shapes more clearly.  You also begin to add texture and variety to the gums themselves.  Keep in mind that the teeth go under the gums and it helps to imagine what that area would look like.

3. In this step you actually separate the top row of teeth from the bottom and just continue to refine the definition of the individual teeth, gums and mouth.  Create depth by removing deeper into the mouth area and pumpkin.  The jawline and teeth curve around the front of the pumpkin head so you will have perspective happening.  Carve deeper as you get closer to the sides and keep in mind we want the illusion of the pumpkin  wearing a mask.  The orange is the mask and the yellow is his actual skin and face showing from below.

4. Lastly in this step it's all about detail and refining the the teeth, gums and mouth to create as much depth and detail and shadow as possible.  In pumpkin sculpture shadows are your friend and create incredible depth when lit properly.  be creative and make the moth whatever you want.  Broken teeth, sharp teeth, square teeth, no teeth it's your call.  just make it bold and precise.  I use the smallest ribbon tools, excato and clay curved scraper in all steps of this part to get the effect I want.

Step 4: The Eyes

1. The first part of this step is the exact same as the mouth.  Go back and revisit the instructions on defining and clearing that area then do the same thing for the eye areas.  As you see below you should start with a circular cleared out area that looks like a pumpkin crop circle.

2. Next define the shape of the eye socket still using the small ribbon tool.  once you get it defined start removing pumpkin from the edge leaving space for the tear ducts.  You want to start making the eyeball an oval shape so remove more from the edges in a consistent manner than from the middle.  Do the same thing at the egde of the mask holes to make it have more depth and appear more like a mask thats sitting on the face.

3. Now you need to continue that but leave a border all the way around the eye socket which will be the top and bottom eyelids. The bottom will be more gradual and the top will be very drastic with a hard edge.

4. After you get the structure of the eye looking the way you want it's time to add texture to the skin surface.  I chose a burnt potted look that shows well with shadows and lighting.  Use a variety of you smaller ribbon tools to remove chunks of pumpkin in a teardrop shape all going towards the same direction.  Be random and depth variety to get a great effect.  After your done slowly blend and soften the edges to the desired effect.

5. Now you get to repeat the exact same steps for the 2nd eye keeping in mind that unless you are going for different sized eyes.  Consistency with size and shape are key in making the eyes look believable.

Step 5: Eye Wound, Nose Holes and Mask Shape

Now that the face and mask is mostly done I need to add the mask nose holes which will be hockey mask style (nothing fancy).  

1. The easiest method is using an exacto knife to trace the outline of the shape you'd like to remove.  I usually cut about a 1/4" into the skin so it will be deep enough and easy to remove.  I use a flat wood chisel to cut the pieces out and get as deep as I desire while keeping a clean edge.

2. I know that I plan to add an accessory later to finish my creation off so I'm going to go ahead and add the detail now that will compliment that.  A huge scar is added in the mask and eye area.  It is deep enough to penetrate both layers and is cut back so that there are no edges again giving the illusion that the mask is being worn by the pumpkin.  

3. Lastly the mask shape itself is defined by removing the skin from the pumpkin except what will remain the mask.  Whatever shape you choose this will leave an orange pumpkin skined mask and everything else will be scraped away using the largest ribbon tool you have.  

Step 6: Refining the Head Size and Carving the Brain

In this step you will continue to remove extra pumpkin meat that is not needed so that the overall size of the head matches the mask.
you don't want the head too big or the mask too small.  You will also define the top exposed brain area through carving.

1. Again using the largest ribbon tool you have continue to scrape away at the pumpkins outside surface so that it matches the size of the mask.  Go slowly and don't remove too much in any one area.  You will need some thickness during the next steps and if you get too thin you'll break through the pumpkin.

2. Next define the top edge of the pumpkin were skin ends and the brain is exposed.  This is very similar to when you cut the top off the pumpkin to place a candle inside.  Instead of cutting all the way through and removing the top and stem you will make an edge that is cut in further than the skin layer giving the illusion that it's exposed.  Use any medium sized ribbon tool to remove the part you want leaving a visible clean edge.  Not too deep though..... there is carving still to be done!!

3. Now take a small ribbon tool that has a "V" shaped groove and begin to remove curved lines in the brain area like you see in the pics below.  It's not an exact science so be creative and have fun making with your brain.  You want the illusion that it has folds and layers overlapping.

4. Once you have the grooves that look like canyons in the top of the pumpkin as seen below.  It's time to now go back with the same tool and soften or round the top edges of the grooves.  This will add more depth and make it look more brain like.  I also use my curved scraper to pic some deeper areas out at intersections to show variety and depth  as you can see in the last pic.

Step 7: Textured Head and Skin

This step is actually pretty simple and involves adding some dimension and texture to the exposed head area of your creation.  You can add as little or as much as you'd like.  Just relax and let the tools do the work for you.

1. I start with the largest ribbon or scraper tool I have and roughly just add some variation to smoothness of the pumpkin.  Think of rolling landscape hills.  See the first picture below as a reference.  You'll want highs and low points, plains and valleys that you will add more detail too further in this step.  This step is very rough so the only care you need to be aware of not going too deep.

2. After that is complete you will grab a smaller ribbon tool and and create lines of texture and striations....  What you are seeing is stretched muscle fibers wrapping and twisting around each other or so it appears.  Work back and forth with your tools on this process until you are happy with the final texture.

Step 8: Creating and Attaching Accents

And now it's time to add some spice to our little creature.  The possibility at this point are pretty endless and all it takes is some planning and imagination.  From the very start I knew I wanted it to appear like this guys mask was strapped on somehow so this is how I did it.

1. While carving always keep some of your larger scraps from this or other pumpkins they make great materials for little additions.
The first picture below I show how I made the eventual straps for the mask.  They are approx.  1/4" to 3/8" wide strips of pumpkin that are about 4" - 5" long.  The thickness is no more than 1/4". I adapted the ends as needed to fit onto the pumpkin when I'm ready.  For me that involved making a notched end that will fit over the edge of the mask.

2. I used tiny little wood screws that would eventually actually screw through the straps and into the pumpkin to attach them into place.

3. Next I carved some demon horns from left over scraps and pieces as I mentioned above.  I then pushed broken toothpicks into them these will be used to eventually push into and fasten to the head of your monster.

4. This step is to set you up to pull this all together.  Clear out a little circular area where the horns will attach that is approx 1/8" into the pumpkin.  This will act as the growth bed of the horn and make it look as if it's errupting through the surface.  You can see what I mean in the second to last picture.  Push the horns down and into place.  

5. Last but not least add some tiny pilot holes into both ends of your pumpkin straps before inserting the screws.  This will discourage the pumpkin skin from splitting from the pressure as you fasten and insert the screws.   Align the straps where you'd like them and very gently twist the screws into the creatures skull with a screwdriver.  If you just push them they might fall out.
Repeat this process for every strap and screw until all are securly attached and don't over overtighten.

Step 9: The Final Step

So you've made it this far and it's time to wrap it all up and enjoy your creation with friends and family and scare some kids.  Remember that little accent I planned for earlier and mentioned, well it's time.  A knife is going into that scar, gash or whatever you created earlier.  I chose a plastic butcher knife and yes it actually goes into the pumpkin as if really attacked.....  Chose whatever weapon you want but make it a good one we don't want this guy coming back!!!

After all is said and done set up descent lighting (which I didn't do a good job on) and (use a real camera not a phone) as I did..... get some good pics and let me know how you did with some pictures or comments.  You have 1-2 weeks to enjoy this guy until
he rots away and is nothing but a spooky memory.  There is no real way to preserve your creation but rubbing some vasoline onto the carved surface to seal out air and keep moisture in will help a little. 

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and I can be reached at:

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