How to Carve a Horse on a Pumpkin

This year for my Halloween pumpkin I decided to try something different and much more challenging than I have ever done before - I wanted to carve one of my horse photos on a pumpkin. This was a vast departure from my very simple and very standard “triangle-eye-smiley-faced” pumpkin I’d done in the past and while, I’m not totally without artistic talent, carving a pumpkin is well outside my comfort zone.

In the process of doing this, I figured out what I think is, a fairly neat way to carve an image into a pumpkin. If you’re attempting this yourself you’ll need the following: 

  • A pumpkin (ideally with a nice flat side to make it easier)

  • An image you want to carve

  • Scotch tape

  • A sharp knife (kids, don’t try this without supervision)

  • A poking tool (A safety pin or finishing nail will do the trick)

  • Toothpicks (this is the emergency tool you’ll use to stick a piece back on if you accidentally cut off a necessary part!)


Pumpkin Invert.jpg
  1. Prep your pumpkin - cut the top off, scoop out the insides (save the seeds to roast!) and cut a notch in the top (to let out the hot air when you put a candle inside)

  2. Prep your image - if your image is in color, you’ll want to convert it to black and white and then invert the images. (Inverting takes what is light and makes it dark and vice versa.) [I used Photoshop to do this but you could probably do the same thing with an image editing app on your phone.]

  3. Tape your image onto your pumpkins surface where you want to carve the image. Using your poking tool, carefully poke the outline on the image as well as outlining the detail that you want to carve out. The key here is that you’ll be wanting to carve out the dark pieces of the image and leave the lighter pieces. You’ll have to use a bit of judgment here - err on the side of caution.

  4. Once you’ve completed the outlining process, remove your image and carefully cut out only the darkest bits of the image.

  5. This is the trickiest part - now you need to create a gradual transition between the cut out pieces and the rest of your image. To achieve this, you’ll thin the pumpkin wall carefully to allow more light to shine through. This will give you an illuminated look. I found that I often had to stop, put a light in the pumpkin to see how it looks and then continue.

Horse Pumpkin.jpg

In the end, it was a bit of trial and error but I think the result was well worth the effort! What do you think?