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5. Carve away the area around your dog just a bit. Then sculpt the ear. In the pumpkin shown in the photos, the ear is folded, so the top part is closer to the viewer and the flap of the ear is carved back somewhat to make it look like it is farther away. Start by using the depth tool as in step three. Dig in just a little. Then, as in step four, use the larger loop tool to carve away the outer edge of the groove. Once you have removed it, you can soften the look by gently carving away the remaining hard edge at an angle.

Check the pumpkin’s wall, and if there’s still enough thickness left, you can make the groove a bit deeper, which will cause the ear to be more prominent. After you’ve outlined the ears, do the forehead, cheeks, eyes and muzzle. If your dog’s mouth is open, or has a ball in it, outline and sculpt the ball, then the tongue and lower jaw. Repeat these steps to work though the rest of the design.

6. To create the fur and to emphasize the detail a bit, use the mini-ribbon tools. Experiment with these tools to see which ones give you the best result. In this example, the dog’s hair was created with the triangle mini-ribbon tool.

Once you’ve completed sculpting your dog, you can sculpt a half moon over the shoulder (or any other design detail that appeals to you). To do this, just draw the shape, outline and go through the steps again.

Many of my students put a battery-powered light inside the pumpkin and carve to the light, so to speak. If you light your pumpkin and feel it’s too dark, simply do some back-carving. Take the loop tool and gently scrape some pumpkin away from inside the cavity. Be careful and go slowly. Do a couple of scrapes and then check your progress with the light.


So, these are the basic steps—trace with the depth tool, feather or remove the outer edge and gently smooth with the large loop tool, then repeat. Just keep in mind that what you carve away thins the pumpkin wall, which will make that area brighter when the pumpkin is lit.

Here are my final words on the subject. You are you, so you will sculpt like you, not me or any other artist. This is what makes art, art. Remember, you do not have to make a dog portrait—this is Halloween, and you can make a vampire dog or whatever you want. Relax and don’t give up! When the big night rolls around, light the inside of the pumpkin. (If it’s a giant like I often use, a battery-powered camping lantern works well; for a classic-size pumpkin, try tea lights, a votive candle or a snap-to-activate glow light.) Then step back and admire your handiwork!




Terri Hardin is an artist and sculptor as well as actor with television and ad work to her credit. Every Halloween, she sculpts pumpkins and teaches others to sculpt them too. Visit her website to order her pumpkin-sculpting DVD, see examples of other carvers’ work and find out when her classes are offered.

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