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Creature Pumpkin Templates

With slithering snakes and buzzing birds, these creature templates are both scary and festive, and will help you create just one or a whole nest of pumpkins that look like real live critters.


These multilegged creatures rise up from the earth and skitter across cold stones.

With spiders, cats, and bats, you can create a whole flock of spooky animals with these pumpkin projects this Halloween.
Guide Items


Vulture's Cage Pumpkin

In this project, a smaller pumpkin is nested inside a larger one, so you'll need two sizes. Choose pumpkins with flat bottoms to ensure a steady display.


  • Large oblong pumpkin
  • Medium-size oblong pumpkin
  • Cage template
  • Bird template
  • Scissors
  • Keyhole saw
  • Fleshing tool
  • Masking tape
  • Awl
  • Miniature saw
  • Linoleum cutter set
  • Paper towels
  • Acrylic paint, in black
  • Paintbrush
  • Petroleum jelly
  • T pins (optional)
  • Votive candle
  • Glass tumbler
  • Tassel
  • Vintage-style key


  1. Step 1


    Prepare templates: size templates as needed so that the cage fits on the large pumpkin and the vulture fits on the medium one. Print 1 copy of each, and trim excess paper around templates.

  2. Step 2


    Cut a hole at the top of each pumpkin with keyhole saw. (The large pumpkin's hole will need to be wide enough for the medium pumpkin's base to pass through.)

  3. Step 3


    Clean the insides of pumpkins with fleshing tool, removing seeds, pulp, and fibers.

  4. Step 4


    Affix templates to the appropriate pumpkin with masking tape. Using awl, transfer designs to each pumpkin by poking holes around blackened areas and along black lines. Remove templates.

  5. Step 5


    Carve cage openings with miniature saw. (To prevent buckling, don't make cage slats narrower than indicated.) Using linoleum cutter fitted with a No. 2 blade, carve an outline around arches (indicated in template by a thin black line), exposing flesh without cutting all the way through.

  6. Step 6


    Carve vulture and its branch with miniature saw, keeping pumpkin's base intact so the bird won't tip forward. Dry vulture and branch with paper towels. Paint them with black acrylic paint. Let dry 10 minutes. Using miniature saw, cut a tiny hole for vulture's eye. 

  7. Step 7

    Coat exposed and carved portions of pumpkins with petroleum jelly to prevent them from drying out. 

  8. Step 8

    Set vulture inside cage. (If the medium pumpkin tips forward, secure the base with T pins.)

Vulture and Cage Template

In this project, a smaller pumpkin is nested inside a larger one.


Fierce Feline Pumpkin


We used a carve-by-color technique to create this cat pumpkin. Trick-or-treaters will love this fierce feline, grabbing at "yarn" made from candy-filled plastic balls wrapped with twine. If resting the pumpkin on its side, cut the opening at the back, instead of at the stem. Once you've lit the pumpkin, place the back piece on and secure it with T-pins.

Print the Fierce Feline Template

How to Light Pumpkins

Plastic ball ornaments,

Martha Stewart Living, October 2010
Fierce Feline Template

Trick-or-treaters will love this fierce feline, grabbing at "yarn."

Night Owl Pumpkin

Martha Stewart Living, October 2010

We used a carve-by-color technique to give this pumpkin a cool, unexpected twist.

This owl stands out against a night sky, complete with stars and a full moon. Opt for a pale Lumina pumpkin: When lit from within, the exterior surface becomes multicolored. This design has the contemporary appeal of graphic art. For a starry sky, carve stars around the pumpkin: Saw some all the way through, and shave away others with a linoleum cutter. (If you want more "sky," carve another pumpkin with just stars.)

Print the Night Owl Template
How to Light the Pumpkin

Comments (4)

  • jnetti 21 Oct, 2013

    I love this idea. I printed this one and the witch. The patterns looks so great and printed perfectly.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • pooslie 20 Sep, 2011

    @shany3913-it is working for me? you wrap white stringed christmas lights around a mason jar and put it in the pumpkin.

  • pooslie 20 Sep, 2011

    @shany3913-it is working for me? you wrap white stringed christmas lights around a mason jar and put it in the pumpkin.

  • shany3913 28 Jul, 2011

    Am I the first one to find out that the link for "How to Light the Pumpkin" is dead? or you have the same problem?

Night Owl Template

This owl stands out against a night sky, complete with stars and a full moon.


Spooky Pumpkins and Pumpkin Prints

With the proper tools (available at art-supply stores), carving a pumpkin for printing is as easy as painting by numbers.


Sinister snaggletoothed sentinels, most jack-o'-lanterns flaunt the traditional features of ample curves, a rich candlelit glow, and kitschy gruesomeness. Beyond providing decoration and atmospheric light, however, carved pumpkins don't make themselves very useful. They just sit on their windowsills and grimace at passersby. Why can't they help out more around the house?

They can. Think of that orange squash as not only an ornament but an artist's tool, and you can have your lantern and use it to make fantastical block prints, too. For carving and inking designs in relief, pumpkins, it turns out, work as well as potatoes, wood, or linoleum -- materials long used to make prints on paper or fabric. You begin by carving pumpkins. You can create designs yourself, or download our templates.

Our crafts department's signature style of carving pumpkins in relief -- thinning the flesh so the design stands out clearly -- makes for dramatic jack-o'-lanterns and good printing tools. Then they put those pumpkins to work. To transfer the images, coat the designs in ink and stamp them onto gauze for curtains, paper bags for luminarias, trick-or-treat sacks for collecting bounty, or favor bags for a party. Whatever projects you prefer, you'll end up with a houseful of harmonious decorations -- not to mention jack-o'-lanterns, the memory of which will haunt the neighbors long after October 31.



  • Template
  • Transparent or masking tape
  • Lino ink
  • Paintbrush
  • Brayer
  • Fine-tip linoleum-cutting (lino) tool
  • Wide-tip lino tool
  • Awl


  1. Step 1

    Draw a template, or download ours. Enlarge to desired size. Cut a hole in bottom of pumpkin and scrape out flesh (thin wall behind design to about 1/2 inch thick so light shines through).

  2. Step 2

    Tape template onto pumpkin. Use an awl to punch holes along design. Remove template; keep it nearby to refer to while carving.

  3. Step 3

    With a fine-tip lino tool, carve outline and interior features of image, exposing but not cutting all the way through the flesh. Draw a frame around design with a pen.

  4. Step 4

    Using a wide-tip lino tool, carve away rind inside frame and around design, cutting 1/4 inch deep so printing area is in clear relief. Rub petroleum jelly on exposed flesh to repel ink drips and to slow decay (if ink does stray, cut away stain).

  5. Step 5

    Coat brayer with lino ink; carefully roll onto design. Use a paintbrush to fill in missed areas.

  6. Step 6

    Press a piece of paper against inked image, using your fingers to make sure paper touches all inked areas. (Rice paper is very thin, so you will see the image form as you work.)

  7. Step 7

    Peel away paper gently; let dry. Touch up print with paintbrush, if desired. For more prints, repeat, reinking each time.

  8. Step 8

    For our framed silhouettes, cut images into circles and affix to card stock with glue stick. Run a black streamer through a sewing machine's ruffler foot. Glue to the front edge of the image.

  9. Step 9

    Lay top of cloth against inked pumpkin; rub until design appears on cloth.

  10. Step 10

    Carefully remove cloth. Wait a few minutes to let the ink set; then repeat across the width of the curtain. Bats are nice for this project because the prints line up so the animals all appear to be hanging from one branch.

  11. Step 11


    When dry, fold top edge of muslin over, and sew a channel to fit your curtain rod. Hang the curtain so that the printed side faces the room.

Martha Stewart Living, October 2004
Cat and Bat Templates

These pumpkins are carved by thinning the flesh so the design stands out clearly.


Denizens of the Dark

Conjure a subtle sense of foreboding with these haunting tableaux of eerily carved pumpkins.


Carved pumpkins usually go solo -- the jaunty jack-o'-lantern perched on a stoop, greeting Halloween callers with a toothy smile. But presented in a cluster, these late-October luminaries really shine. This year, why not assemble dramatic vignettes to set the stage for a season of spine-chilling fun? Beckon treat-seekers with glowing orbs that radiate a spider theme on the steps of a dimly lit doorway. Or set a harvest table with pumpkins from which an ominous scarecrow and a black cat loom. These are just two of the scenes you can create using the techniques that follow. Before you visit the pumpkin patch or the farm stand, draw a sketch of your composition to determine how many pumpkins you'll need. Then, with an eye for sizes and shapes, choose ones with slightly flat faces, which will make it easier to transfer the designs. When carving time comes, invite friends over to partake of the craft of transforming pumpkins, large and small, into scenes full of watchful ravens, screeching cats, and fluttering moths. Your gang of pumpkins will bewitch the night so effectively, you'll want to enjoy them long into November.

Once the carving is complete, wrap string lights around the glass jar, then place jar inside pumpkin. We prefer this technique because you won't have to worry about the lights going out in your display.

You can also use fruits of various sizes in the same arrangement. (Keep in mind that smaller pumpkins are harder to work with.) We paired three basketball-style pumpkins with a small, smooth-skinned pie pumpkin.


  • Pumpkin templates
  • Keyhole saw to cut the opening
  • Plaster scraper, fleshing tool, or sharp, sturdy spoon for scooping out the pulpy flesh and thinning the walls
  • Awl, for transferring the template patterns
  • Narrow-blade and wide-blade linoleum cutters for etching designs
  • Miniature saw for carving designs
  • String lights
  • Glass jar


  1. Step 1


    Cut a hole in base of pumpkin with keyhole saw. Scoop out seeds and flesh with plaster scraper, fleshing tool, or spoon; thin walls if desired.

  2. Step 2


    Choose template. Reduce or enlarge as needed, and tape to pumpkin.

  3. Step 3


    Using an awl, pierce holes along perimeter of template; remove to reveal pattern outline.

  4. Step 4


    Using narrow-blade linoleum cutter, remove skin along perimeter of your design. Then use wide-blade cutter to pare away skin within design. (The more skin you pare, the brighter the design will glow.)

  5. Step 5

    Carve out your design using miniature saw. For intricate patterns with tight corners, work in sections.

Martha Stewart Living, October 2007

Reviews (5)

  • ashleysam128 21 Oct, 2008

    I used the raven template to carve a pumpkin last year and it was a hit! I had never "scraped" the skin off of the pumpkin before, and it really gives a great look! When carving out the inside of the pumpkin, try to wear down the walls, so when you carve the outside the pattern really shines!

  • AdrianayHugo 17 Oct, 2008

    Hello to all: I'd love to get the Victorian Gothic Chandelier (Glittered Chandelier) template to try to make it with my kids. Thank you

  • kimlikesyellow 12 Sep, 2008

    i think this is a very romantic view of halloween, i like this very much

  • vjfowl 12 Sep, 2008

    Yes, please do provide us with where to get the templates.

  • marthaminime 12 Sep, 2008

    Where can I get the templates?

Crow Template

Create this pumpkin with a watchful raven to protect your home from ghouls and goblins.