How To Carve Someone's Face On A Pumpkin

How To Carve Someone's Face On A Pumpkin
How do you carve someone's face on a pumpkin. It is somewhat fun to do, but it takes some time, energy and talent. Typically, this is not my forte. I rarely spend much time or energy on them, but I'm a sucker for publicity and I have books to sell, so I do a few of these a year.

Each year I try and try to simplify the process, and I have it down to a five-step process. A finished pumpkin usually is the result of at least 5 solid hours of labor.

First, some tips:
1. Choose your subject wisely. Cartoon characters are the easiest to carve. They are drawn simply and are instantly recognizable. Celebrities can be done as well. People like Jay Leno or David Letterman have a dominant feature that people will immediately recognize. People without ethnicity, obvious age, and without flaws are the hardest. The weatherman on your local newscast would be near impossible. Why? because he probably looks like the weatherman on my local newscast and every other weatherman in the country. If you make a mistake, everyone will say "our weatherman doesn't have one ear larger than the other." or something like that.

2. You have to know whether the pumpkin will be seen in full light or whether it will be lit from within. You need to carve the pumpkin completely differently for the two types of lighting. If the pumpkin will be seen in the daytime or under studio lights, you carve it like a three color picture. If the pumpkin will be lit from behind, you can adjust the thickness of the skin so that the amount of light passing through represents the highlights from the contours of the face. Different lighting means different carving styles.

3. You need a good photo to start with. The photo should be shot straight-on or very close to it. It should show some personality or have a recognizable expression.

4. You need to have fairly low expectations. You are carving a pumpkin, an organic, moist, fibrous vegetable. You have to start with whatever shape pumpkin you have and you need to finish with it looking like a human face. No mistakes are allowed either. You can't uncarve it. I'm not lying to you, unless you are a really accomplished sculptor, this isn't going to end well.

5. The audience will never be happy. Seriously, I'm not the best carver in the world, but I'm better than most and I can rarely please an audience. In fact, I have only received one or two compliments about a pumpkin that was supposed to look like a person. Both times it came from tween girls who thought a celebrity pumpkin looked OK. These girls probably thought the clouds in the sky looked like Hannah Montanna.

That said, here are the five steps that I use to carve someone's face on a pumpkin. Have fun and give it a go.

You will need: A digital picture of the subject, Adobe Photoshop, a color printer, carving tools, a bright light for lighting the pumpkin from within.