Helpful things to keep in mind when trying to come up with the coolest jack-o-lantern on your street. This instructable will not get into any specific designs to use or patterns in hopes that you will be inspired to make your own.
*this is just how i carve my pumpkins every year
this is not the only way/process that one could use to come up with a totally awesome design that beats down everything in its path
Step 1: Getting Inspired
This is really just something that happens. Sometimes you have to go out and look for it; sometimes it comes to you. In this case "it" would be what kind of image you want to put on your pumpkin. MY Nightmare Before Christmas one was brought on by my sister being semi obsessed with all Tim Burton movies for about a month. Just recently I was channel surfing and saw a Star Wars commercial. This year I've already drawn up something I think will be making it's way onto my pumpkin.
So first think of things you might possibly want on your pumpkin then a quick google image search could help you find something close to work with.
Step 2: Reference Images
Although I am suggesting you come up with your own designs, reference images will help a lot in drawing up that design.
Step 3: Drawing Up Your Design
This is where the reference images come in handy.
Unfortunately i have lost the original drawing used on my NBC pumpkin, but I do have one I just drew up for my star wars pumpkin.
While drawing up you design, keep it simple. Remember, all you will be seeing is an silhouette too so pictures with very fine details wont really have much of an impact on a viewer. If you're picking something recognizable like I am, make sure it actually is recognizable by the silhouette alone. Be careful too of "islands" or pieces that would be floating. I ran into that issue a bit when drawing up this design.
Step 4: Get a Pumpkin
I suggest waiting until you've drawn up your design to go get a pumpkin. This way, you'll no what kinda of pumpkin you require. I like going for a good medium sized one with a flat face to work on. The flat side makes for a perfect place to display your design. It's hard to find a flat sided pumpkin at a grocery store (I find) so if you're in the vicinity of a "u-pick" pumpkin farm, I suggest going for that.
Step 5: Get the Junk Outa Your Pumpkin
Step 6: Transfer Design to Your Pumpkin
There's a couple different ways to place the design on your pumpkin. You can try to just redraw it on the pumpkin. You could also take the design you drew out earlier and use one of the little poker things that come in most pumpkin carving kits.
I prefer the latter, and i use the original drawing to make sure I cut the right stuff.
The only down side is that you destroy your design in the process.
Step 7: Cut Out Your Design
When cutting out your design, there are a couple things you should remember.
+If there's a really large area you need to cut out, break it up into smaller sections to make it easier to remove. you are also less likely to break a part of your pumpkin if you cut out smaller pieces rather than one huge one.
+Try to cut straight back. It will make your design more clear when you finish.
+WATCH OUT FOR ISLANDS. I know you've checked then checked again, but quite often you don't realize that you're trying to make a piece float in mid air until you're about to cut it like that.
Step 8: Light Is Up
I prefer candles to lights just because of the cool flickering effect you get.
Tea candles are ok but sometimes they don't give out much light. Using 2 or 3 can help with that.
I like using the pic 2 ones though, because they tend to have a larger flame.
In any case though, more candles will mean more light.
Step 9: Preserving Your Pumpkin
There are a few simple ways to make your pumpkin, along with your design, to last longer.
+apply vaseline to all areas that you cut. "all exposed areas". Get the inside too.
+Make a lemon juice spray. Mixing equal parts of water and lemon juice and spraying it on the inside and outside of your pumpkin will help keep it fresh.
+If you have room, place it in your refrigerator.
Step 10: Closing Notes
Remember pumpkin design can and should be simple and fun. Be creative, keep it simple, and post some pics in the comments.