Is That a REAL Pumpkin??? Yes, It Is!




Introduction: Is That a REAL Pumpkin??? Yes, It Is!

Here's a terrifying technique that will have your neighbors asking, "Is that a REAL pumpkin????

Step 1: It's That Time of Year!

It's Halloween and time to carve a few pumpkins! Here's a technique I've used over the years that really elevated any face you carve into your Halloween Jack-O-Lantern! The process is simple and you can have the best pumpkin on the block with a little time and practice!

What I use:

A REAL Pumpkin (duh)

Something to carve the pumpkin

Modeling clay

Sculpting tools (toothpicks, skewers will do)

Acrylic paints - oranges, red, yellow, white, black

Vegetable oil

That's it!

Step 2: Draw and Cut Your Design...

Start by tracing the outline of your idea on the pumpkin with a marker. I usually freehand the sketch but you could draw it on paper and transfer it if you like. The best part of this technique is that your sins will soon be covered in clay! I'll be honest, I usually just start with a vague concept and let the clay do all of the work. LOL.

Then, take your carving tools and cut out the places where the light should shine through. Most people would stop here... but we aren't most people! Time to break out the clay!

Step 3: This Is the Fun Part!

Now, take your clay and begin sculpting the face on the pumpkin. Use your fingers to blend edges. The clay will stick better than you think. Use the vegetable oil to blend the edges so they become almost invisible to the eye. The oil will make the clay smooth and more willing to disappear into the pumpkin.

I like to make rough shapes before placing on the face. Any voids can be fixed once you have the clay in place. Also, I look at the anatomy of the pumpkin and try to use the natural lines that are already there. If there is a crease that runs down the face of the pumpkin, I try to incorporate it as if it is still part of my structure. This makes for a more organic look in my opinion.

Step 4: Blending It All Together.

Once I am satisfied with the sculpt, I take a brush and soften the details with the vegetable oil. This will help your blending as well. Then, I blot everything down with paper towels so there isn't excess oil on the surface or in the cracks. This will help when we paint!

Step 5: Ready for Paint!

So, this year I decided to try to airbrush my pumpkin. Usually, I paint by hand and it comes out well. I use acrylic paints and have had little issue with the color staying on the clay. You would think it would be a problem, but I've never encountered one and since this is a real pumpkin, there is no need for it to last...

I start with a base orange as close to the pumpkin color as possible. I blend the color into the sides of the actual pumpkin and feather it so it disappears into the actual color of the pumpkin. I then follow up with light layers of reds and yellows to take care of any blending issues in the base color.

Once blended, I paint highlights and shadows. I usually mix my colors with the orange base so the details do not seem so stark. For this guy, I painted the eyeball white with red accents and dotted the center with black.

Step 6: All He Needs Now Is a Few Trick or Treaters!

Can't wait to light this guy up! Happy Halloween!

Here are also a couple of pumpkins I made with this technique in years past...

Also, be sure to check out and vote for the Halloween costume Instructables we made this Halloween!!!


Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016



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    24 Discussions

    I use paper mache and paper clay to make my pumpkins. Once they are dry seal with spar varnish then paint. I can't say they are water proof but if you store them inside they should last for a long time. this is where I learned how to make them.

    1 reply

    Very cool. Honestly, I LIKE the fact that this a temporary piece. If I could keep it, I would not be motivated to do something new each year. That said, a few of those would be great to accent a main piece! Thanks for the link!

    This looks so COOL, I want to make a mold and force the pumpkin to grow into it.

    1 reply

    Absolutely epic! Such a shame it doesn't last for long.

    Next time you should make the eyeball separately then glue it in. Looks awesome though!

    1 reply

    I thought about that but I wanted it to look like it was all one piece... but since I painted the eye I guess all bets were off. LOL. I even thought about using a melon ball scooper and making an eyeball with that. Maybe next year! Thanks for the comment!

    Doesn't the pumpkin ROT inside? How long does this last?

    1 reply

    Yes, this is not a permanent piece. Like a real pumpkin, it goes out with the trash but that just inspires me to do it again next year!


    1 year ago

    This is so very cool, and opens up a lot of creative avenues! Kudos!

    Ha! Very smart! Nice work!

    Wow! What a great use of clay, ingenuity, and elbow grease. Nicely done!


    1 year ago

    Ha ha!! Fantastic pumpkin, and very creative. Thanks for sharing this great idea with all of us. Well done.

    Creative with a capital "C". Kudos

    It's not cheating it's flippin awesome, why shouldn't your pumpkin wear a mask on Halloween!! One of the reasons we all come to instructables....innovation!! Nice work!

    Cheating?? It's about creativity. I didn't know there was rules in regards to being creative.

    This is one cool piece of art!

    Love your pumpkin. It's perfectly scary. Your sense of creativity is truly remarkable.

    When I first saw the pumpkin, I thought, "He must be using a plastic mold, like the Japanese use to make cube shaped watermelons."

    Using clay is kind of cheating, I think.