Creative & Spooky Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Updated on September 16, 2017
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What would Halloween be without a carved pumpkin strategically placed in the window or along the outside steps or patio? Though pumpkin carving has become an art form that can reach very high levels, in its simplest form, it is still a major part of celebrating and having fun on Halloween.

Pumpkin carving patterns and ideas are endless. Every year, it seems like thousands more pumpkin-carving enthusiasts from around the world emerge and achieve even higher quality and design.

Here are a few basic pumpkin-carving tips before we get into some photos of cool pumpkin artistry.There are really only three things to keep in mind when carving a pumpkin.

  1. When you view that area that is dark when looking at a lighted pumpkin, that is the area on the pumpkin that is mostly left untouched.
  2. When you view the lighted pumpkin and see the white or light, that's where the carving has taken place all the way through the pumpkin.
  3. Probably most importantly, the shaded and detailed areas are those areas of the pumpkin that have been peeled. This is the most creative (or delicate) part of the work, since the deeper or shallower you peel the pumpkin, the more detailed your work can be.

So with those basics in mind, let's look at different carved pumpkins to get some ideas from them.

Harry Potter Pumpkin Designs

The enormous popularity of Harry Potter has generated creativity in almost every type of medium, including pumpkins.

It's not surprising to see some really well-done Halloween pumpkin carvings inspired by the Harry Potter characters. Here are some examples of what people have done before. If you want to come up with your own idea for a Potter-themed pumpkin, however, here are some ways to start:

  • Think about your favorite characters — What do they wear? What are their symbols? What do they say? Are they an animal or a dragon? All of these could easily be carving designs.
  • What are some famous landmarks and locations — What are some of the most famous places at Hogwarts? How are they represented? Could you do a stylized version of one of them?
  • Famous phrases — Avada kedavra might be one, or "You've got owl!" or something your favorite (or least favorite) character says all the time.

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Headless Horseman Pumpkin Art Ideas

The headless horseman is a classic figure from the Tale of Sleepy Hollow. Here are some different takes on the theme.


Skeleton and Skull Designs

Here are several different designs that are based off of skulls, skeletons, and bones. Spooky!

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Spider Web Design Ideas

Spider webs and spiders are another Halloween decoration must. Here are some examples of simple and intricate carvings to get you thinking!

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Spooky Tree Designs

For some reason, bare trees are a popular Halloween motif. Maybe it's the way they creak and tap in the wind. Maybe it's their association with big, dark forests. Who knows!

Either way, here are some scary tree designs to start you thinking.

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Designs From Popular Movies

Here are some examples of pumpkins inspired by popular movies.

Jack Sparrow Pumpkin (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Pirate Skull Pumpkin

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Pan's Labyrinth Pumpkin

Predator Pumpkin

This is a completely different type of pumpkin carving. What a spectacular work! It's amazing even if you're not familiar with the Predator franchise.

This carving really shows what someone that has some skill and patience can do with a pumpkin. Those teeth and madrigals are extraordinary, as is the design on the side of the pumpkin and the Predator's face.

Nightmare Before Halloween Pumpkins

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Other Interesting, Abstract, and Cute Designs

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Get Inspired and Start Carving Your Own Designs

There are so many pumpkin designs that I wanted to include about twenty more! Hopefully you got some inspiration from these themes and pumpkins. Good luck brainstorming! There are some tips on how to do that below.

How to Come Up With Pumpkin Carving Ideas

  • Think about your favorite books, movies, songs, or works of art. Are there any characters, symbols, or motifs that you like? Try finding a picture to print out with some simple lines on it to get started.
  • Do some searching online. Looking at what other people have done can help you get inspiration for your own work.
  • Don't overthink it. A simple concept that is well done will often look better than something complicated and poorly executed.
  • Use popular bits of Halloween culture for inspiration (see tables below).
  • Use words, faces, or pictures as templates. You can even do something abstract!
  • Break ideas down or expand them. Instead of doing a witch, just carve a witch's hat or broom. Do an eye instead of a whole face. Or, do a witch flying against the moon, or a bunch of very small faces, or lots of eyes all over the pumpkin. Zooming into or out of an idea, as well as repeating it, is a good way to break creative ground.

Possible Inspiration Sources for Your Pumpkin

Scary (ish) Stories
Spooky (ish) Movies
Halloween Phrases
Popular Images
The Raven
Hocus Pocus
Trick or treat!
Scary clowns
The Fall of the House of Usher
Nightmare Before Halloween
Zombies, ghouls, or goblins
The Shining
Sleepy Hollow
Fangs, teeth, or eyes
Bats or crows
Harry Potter
Severed fingers or hands
The Lord of the Rings
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Hocus pocus
The Addams Family
Keep out!
Barren trees
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Witches or warlocks
Rosemary's Baby
Young Frankenstein
Do not enter
American Pyscho
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Skulls, skeletons, or the Grim Reaper

How to Make Your Own Carving Pattern

If you want to learn how to make your own carving pattern, check out this article from Serious Eats. It discusses:

  • What you need to make your own design and carve a pumpkin
  • How to choose a pumpkin and a design
  • How to modify the photo you've chosen to make it easier to transfer to a pumpkin
  • How to cut and clean the pumpkin
  • How to transfer the design to the pumpkin
  • Information on carving best practices and how to make details stand out
  • How to clean and light it up

These instructions are really detailed and are meant for carving a face into the pumpkin, but you could use them for any photograph that you want to carve.

Good luck!

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        hi miss you always 2 years ago

        thank you

      • eilval profile image

        Eileen 3 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

        Super pumpkin carving collection - love them all !

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        looks like it takes a lot of talented crafters to make best hallow wen scary

      • Arco Hess Designs profile image

        Arco Hess 3 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

        Pumpkin carving, I think, is more about the tool and knowing how deep to go more than anything else.

        You can print your favorite pic and then do a quick outline on the pumpkin, use your tool and carve it. I've done numerous exactly using this method and it turns out great.

      • mbwalz profile image

        MaryBeth Walz 4 years ago from Maine

        Wow, that was a cool collection of carvings! Ours are fairly simple but I like to make toasted pumpkin seeds and I roast the bigger chunks of pumpkin from the carving. Thanks for the hub.

      • WiccanSage profile image

        Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

        Love the spider web pumpkin. I always loved carving jacks. I can't wait for Halloween sometimes just to get my hands on a pumpkin. Nice work.

      • Better Yourself profile image

        Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

        Great pumpkin carvings! The harry potter and spider web are so detailed, and predator carving is Creepy! Enjoyed your hub!

      • Ilona1 profile image

        Ilona 4 years ago from Ohio

        What a weirdly fantastic collection of carved pumpkins! I was amazed at the creativity displayed in these examples. I was also impressed by "the predator".

      • profile image

        no name 6 years ago

        The predator pumpkin is extremly cool!!! GREAT JOB!

      • profile image

        im not telling 6 years ago

        wow that's pure tallent

      • profile image

        VivekSri 7 years ago

        Looks great and the phantom glows are real work of art. kudos and cheers.

      • Les Trois Chenes profile image

        Les Trois Chenes 8 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        These are fab. Did you carve them yourself!!!

      • profile image

        LR 8 years ago

        That pumpkin is from the Nightmare before Christmas not Halloweentown, just an fyi.