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Halloween Pumpkins

With lots of time on my hands, I decided that I would do something special with my pumpkin for Halloween. The idea was simple… Would I be able to carve my own face onto a pumpkin? This post tells the story of my endeavour, and by the end of it I’ll let you be the judge as to whether I was successful.

In order to get any sort of design onto the pumpkin, the main job is to create a template of the design that you want. The first challenge is to chose what design you want, which was easy for me as I had already decided that I would carve a picture of my own face. The next step was to find a suitable picture that could be used to make a good template. Keeping in mind that the final design can only use three shades, it is necessary to find a picture that can be converted into a three level grey-scale and still keep its features. In the final carving, the lightest areas will be made by carving out complete holes, the medium areas will be made by removing just the skin of the pumpkin, and the darkest areas will be left with their skin on. The main thing to keep in mind, is that the final pumpkin is only likely to work when lit from within by a candle, and sat in a dark room.

After a little bit of searching, the best hints I could find were to use a photo that is well lit from the front, but with a plain dark background. Luckily for me, I had a recent photograph that fulfilled that role: the professional photography from my graduation. So, cropping the picture so as just to show my face, I was left with the following starting point for creating my template.

Alex PhD Graduation

Now comes the Photoshop skills, or in my case GIMP skills. You need to convert the image into grey-scale, and then “posterize” it down to only 3 levels of grey. If the resulting image isn’t very good, then playing around with the contrast and brightness of the image, before posterisation, can help. You also have to remember that the template will have to be carved into a pumpkin, so you cannot have any dark or medium areas “floating” within light areas. I have changed my 3-level grey-scale image into a 3-level orange-scale image, to add a pumpkin colour theme to the template.

pumpkin template

So, with template in hand, I only had to choose a pumpkin from the green grocer’s, attach a print out of the template, and transfer the layout onto the pumpkin. Then the relevant parts of the design could be cut out or skinned.

PumpkinsPumpkin with TemplateTemplate Transferred to PumkpinHoles Cut OutAreas SkinnedPumpkin lit

I’ll end this post with a photo of the finished pumpkin, lit up with a candle, and placed in a dark room, and a photo of it sat amongst its Halloween pumpkin peers.

Final OutcomeFinished Pumpkins

Comments welcome.

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