Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to create some great pieces of art for a local sculpture company, and around this time of year, it’s great to see all the pumpkin carvings of all shapes and sizes being created. Last year I created a 3D pumpkin carving of Helio Gracie, however, as I won’t get the chance to carve one this year I decided I’d write about one I did a couple of years ago.

John Terry pumpkin carving

A few weeks before Halloween Chelsea Football Club approached the company I was freelancing for, and I was asked to be part of a two-man team to create a 3d pumpkin carving of John Terry & Diego Costa and also the Chelsea Football Club logo.

I was given the task of dealing with John Terry and I was set to carve my first ever 3D pumpkin.

How to carve a 3d pumpkin

There is loads of information readily available on the internet on how to create 3d pumpkin carvings, but I will show you in a few simple steps how I went about creating something so lifelike.

Find yourself a good sized pumpkin

The ones from your local supermarket are fine, but if you want to give yourself some extra room to work with I would suggest a giant pumpkin. Big Pumpkins are based in Preston, Lancashire and have a great selection of giant pumpkins.

Create your 3d pumpkin design

Decide on what or who you want to carve. For this example of John Terry I created a stencil based on 3 tones. This works well with faces as a 3D image can be created by using just the highlights, mid-tones and shadows from an image.

Next, find an image of the person you want to carve in Google images and copy that image into an image editor of your choice. What you then need to do is turn the image into black and white and then duplicate the image 3 times.

Using the image editing feature of your chosen editing software, change the first image to emphasise the highlights. Do the same with the other two images but for the mid-tones and shadows. Merge them together and this will give you your template to work from.

Print out a couple of copies and then move on to the next step.

Carve in the outline using the 3d pumpkin carving template

The next step is to fix your printed template onto the pumpkin. This is when a bigger pumpkin would be better as it is easier to fix the template to it. It can be a little tricky as the pumpkin is not flat, so be sure to pin from the top first and press your image to the pumpkin as you are carving. Using a basic carving knife from a pumpkin carving set, carve around all the outlines of all three shades.

It does get a little tricky here as the pumpkin will start to weep, but if you work methodically from top to bottom it should make it easier.

Carve your 3d pumpkin

Now you get to show off your creative pumpkin carving skills!

First off, if you haven’t done so already, print another copy of your template so you can reference the lines you have scoured into the pumpkin with your printed image. Your first copy will also be cut to shreds and wet so it will be unusable.

Here is how you should go about creating the 3 different layers of tones on your pumpkin carving.

  • The pumpkin skin – This will represent the shadows
  • The pumpkin flesh – This will represent the mid tones
  • The pumpkin holes – This will represent the highlights

Start off by using your template as a reference point for the lines you have scoured into the pumpkin and identify where the mid tones are. Remember, you do not need to do anything with the shadows as the skin will be left in place to create the shadows. Carve out all the mid tones making sure you still have some scoured lines you can see for when you come to the highlights.

At this stage, you can just take the skin layer off for the mid tones which will assist in leaving the lines for when you come to the highlights. Once finished, start on the highlights, cutting in any lines or holes that will penetrate the flesh to create the highlight effect.

Create that professional 3d effect

Now you have the basic tones in place you can now create those extra touches to make your creation look like a professional 3d pumpkin carving.

Cut a hole into the top or rear of the pumpkin and place a portable light inside it. Make sure the room is dark and you will now see the full effect of the carving and what you need to work on.

Remember, you don’t need to work on the skin unless any of the outlines are out. Instead, work on carving the flesh nice and steadily. Be careful not to carve out too much flesh and remember that the more you carve out, the lighter it will get.

By using the light inside of the pumpkin you will begin to see the curves of the face as it starts to take shape. Keep taking a step back from the pumpkin as you will have a better idea of what you will need to carve to get the curves and shapes of the face.

That’s it, simple!! Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions, pop them in the comments box below.

Happy Halloween! 


Every day, every new experience or setback I am still learning. It’s that learning I want to share. I want to share my own experiences, how I learn things, what techniques I use and how I help people in their life.

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