20+ Ideas And Hacks For This Year's Jack-O’-Lantern

Diply 17 Oct 2018

We're about to reach the sweet spot for pumpkin carving. There's still enough time to plan and execute an awesome jack-o'-lantern without it being so early that the pumpkin will rot before Halloween night.

I haven't decided what I'm going to carve yet, so here's a whole bunch of inspiration and a few tips to get your design just right.

Of course, if you don't want to carve at all, there are other great ways to decorate a pumpkin.

1. Use the right tools.

Twitter | @rambelaya

These days you can get a super cheap pumpkin carving set for next to nothing, but if you're looking to up your game, invest is a slightly better set that won't break or cause carpal tunnel halfway through carving.

For even more detailed carving, head to the art store and get a set of carving tools from the clay modeling section.

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2. Go for a twist on the classic jack-o'-lantern.

Instructables | 21GeeOff21

It's a classic for a reason. A scary-cute face is perfect for beginners or kids to try before delving into more complicated patterns. It doesn't need to be triangle eyes and a jagged mouth, though. Feel free to play around.

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3. Practice smaller cuts with an abstract tree design.

Twitter | @Megintransition

Want to try for smaller details without worrying about straight lines or perfect curves? A creepy tree design is perfect for that. Wobbly cuts will just make it more creepy.

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4. Who says it has to be scary at all?

Twitter | @kurokumoclutch

I think any trick-or-treater would love to come across this cute pupper on a neighbor's porch. It's a great way to let Fido stay part of the celebration while he's confined to the kitchen during candy hours.

You try telling a dog that the constant doorbell and ghouls at the door aren't a reason to bark all evening.

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5. Carving Hack: Use a sharp tool to poke the template outline into the pumpkin surface. 

Naptime Crafts | Naptime Crafts

Tape the image you want to transfer onto the side of your pumpkin and then poke your tool through the paper and a bit into the surface.

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Once you've gone around the whole pattern, remove the template. 

Naptime Crafts | Naptime Crafts

You can start carving along the dotted lines right away or use a dry-erase marker to trace the lines if you need to see them better.

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6. Get nerdy with it and be inspired by your favorite TV show or movie. 

Twitter | @NoelDickover

The sky's the limit for inspiration here, and a lot of properties have simpler designs you could try first. Family crests from Game of Thrones, Hogwarts house emblems, or similar items make perfect pumpkin designs.

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7. If you are a bit more confident, you could do a simplified character portrait. 

Twitter | @breeberrypie_

You can turn any portrait into a simplified template using posterization in a graphics program on your computer or using a free online tool. Posterize it to just a few colors and then change it to black and white.

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8. Certain designs may be creepier than others. 

Twitter | @keatxngrant

On one hand, I adore this idea for a jack-o'-lantern. On the other hand, I'm going to be seeing glowing Pennywise in my dreams tonight.

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9. Be strategic about how your design will hold together. 

Twitter | Twitter

If you look closely at this Ghostbusters design, you'll see that there are places around the head or under the right hand where a section of pumpkin was left to connect freestanding parts of the design.

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10. Sometimes, you don't even need to carve. 

Twitter | @swnewton31

Well, this BB-8 pumpkin is just plain adorbs. You just need a pair of pumpkins in the right size, some paint, and a few props.

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11. Go for the pun. You know you want to.

Twitter | @GuyMcPerson309

Is it a next level of nerdy? Yes, but as a girl who owns not one but two pi(e) pun t-shirts, I fully support this.

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12. It doesn't need to be a math joke to have some fun, though.

Twitter | @QueenHalloweenW

Kids won't get it, but every parent on candy escort duty will appreciate it when they see it.

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13. Don't forget to utilize props!

Twitter | @HeadPdcs

The actual carving on this pumpkin is fairly simple, but a couple pieces of cardboard and beads make it really cute and special.

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14. Carving Hack: Sometimes, all you need are cookie cutters.

Modern Parents Messy Kids | Modern Parents Messy Kids

And a mallet.

You'll want to make sure that the cutters are sturdy and probably metal for this trick. They need the strength to cut through the pumpkin.

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Use a knife to pop the pieces out (or finish the carving if the cutter wasn't deep enough).

Modern Parents Messy Kids | Modern Parents Messy Kids

While the pumpkin itself may be simpler than some other designs, its true genius is shown off in a dark room. The shapes will shine all over the walls.

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15. Keep the carving simple in favor of a diarama.

Twitter | @HeadPdcs

Instead of cutting the hole in the top, carve it out of the front and scoop everything out. Then add props to create a spooky scene.

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16. Have fun with multiple sizes. 

Twitter | @B_Carp01

It's a pumpkin, eating a pumpkin, and so on! This is another one that turns a simple carved face design into something fun and memorable.

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17. Carving Hack: relief or surface carving is a great way to add more detail.

Instructables | jkabloom

This is where those clay carving tools come in handy. Using a ribbon carver, you can peel away the top layers of pumpkin skin without cutting all the way through.

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18. Relief carving adds a more subtle glow to the finished Jack o'Lantern.

Twitter | @omgchomp

The more layers of skin you peel away, the more light from inside the pumpkin will filter through. Just be careful not to peel too deeply.

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19. Relief carving is what can really make your designs pop.

Twitter | @NoelDickover

Basically, once you've practiced it a bit, you'll have unlocked the power of multiple levels of shading. Your design can have more depth!

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20. Carving Hack: transfer more complicated designs with just a pencil.

Look Between The Lines | Look Between The Lines

This is a trick lots of artists use to transfer sketches to a canvas and it works just as well on a pumpkin. Print out your design and then scribble a thick layer of pencil onto the back of the sheet.

Tape the paper to the pumpkin with the pencil against the surface.

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Then just trace over the design with firm pressure. When you remove the paper, you'll see faint graphite outlines on the pumpkin.

Look Between The Lines | Look Between The Lines

To darken the outline, just trace over it again with pencil or dry-erase marker.

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21. But really, the most important thing is to have fun with it. 

Twitter | @cefairless

Whether you go with a classic grin, a favorite character, or an ode to a classic bit of science fiction cinema, it's a chance to share a bit of yourself in a spooky way.

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