How To Make Your Jack O Lantern Scary Enough to Frighten Anyone

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Written By Michael

I love gardening, building, making and fixing things. 





If you’re wanting to make your jack o lantern scary enough to make anyone jump out of their skin, follow our tips below.


Around our house pumpkin carving is a big deal and we like to try creative new ideas every year. So, we thought we’d share a few techniques, creative thought-starters and tips on carving pumpkins into award-winning Jack O’ Lanterns this Halloween.

When Halloween rolls around, it is impossible to run out of create way to carve your pumpkins. Some are frightful while others are fanciful, make a big wicked grin and the effect can be positively eerie!

Whether you transform a pumpkin into a goofy ‘smiler’ or a wicked, jagged-tooth vampire, jack o lanterns are guaranteed to make Halloween magic.

Jack O’ Lantern Scary Designs

There isn’t a limit with to what you can do, but there is a smart way to go about it. You can pick any design, but make sure you use larger, strongly defined shapes. Pumpkins are thick and it’s very hard to carve the intricate delicate details.

Whatever you choose let it make optimum use of the space it is in, you don’t want too much bare pumpkin skin around it or the light inside won’t be effective. Also think about who will be coming to visit; a cutesy, simple design is loved by young children, but if the kids will be a bit older you might want something a bit more spooky or surprising.

A Perky Pumpkin Face

Pay attention to the eyes and mouth if you want a happy, smiling or thoughtful expression on your Jack O Lantern face.

If you like the celebration spirit of Halloween but aren’t so keen on spooking, you might like a perky, smiling pumpkin design.

Draw simple circular eyes and focus on arcing eyebrows that look like flags waving in the wind. This will work to show a happy emotion. Make the nose a simple triangle and then emphasis the mouth. A wide, jovial upward angled mouth with an enormous hanging tongue for a bit of cheek.

A hanging centerpiece in the center of the tongue will give it some definition but carve this part first or it will become too weak.

Lips in Stitches Pumpkin

A really simple design but very effective once lit up. Do two circular pupils and then emphasis them with enormous arching triangular eyes. One downward, diagonal line above each will express a frown.

Scary skull head and flames pumpkin carving design is more than just spooky!

The nose can be a simple wide upside down triangle. For the mouth, create a stitch effect like those which was traditionally drawn on a Frankenstein cartoon by making a wide curvaceous line and then drawing vertical lines across it from one side to the side for a great grimacing growl.

Skull Head Pumpkin

Always one of my favorites, the skull is a straightforward and recognizable image so it will be easy to source a picture to trace.

Make the eyes on this one very deep and wide to let the like out. Two small side by side triangles are all that is needed for a nose. Keep the face long by distancing between the features. Cut out small, square teeth either side of a line for the mouth.

A defined square line running around the outside will be effective. You can take some tinfoil and cover a couple of teeth to give long john silver treatment.

Frankenstein Pumpkin

Monster themes are always a great pumpkin carving theme in keeping with the Halloween spirit.

This is another easy one to adapt from a picture. Track down a Frankenstein cartoon.

The features you’ll want to include in your design are the hair, eyes, nose, mouth, facial stitches, ear, bottom corners of jaw and neck complete with bolts.

The traditional Jack O Lantern face makes a great Halloween pumpkin display.

These are the distinguishing features that make any Frankenstein image recognizable.

Worm Brain Pumpkin

A fun design bound to show your home off as a viable trick or treat stop. Simple carve enormous round eyes and a large cavernous mouth.

Take a drill and drill small holes around the top of the head and on the front of the face between the eyes.

Insert some lolly snakes to appear as if they are squirming out of the holes. If you drill two holes near each other, you can insert both ends of the snake and make it look as if it is crawling tunnels inside. Delicious!

Tips to Keep your Pumpkin Looking Classy on Halloween

Cute Hello Kitty pumpkin design. I bet my six-year-old daughter will love this one!

  • Pick a fresh pumpkin (always pick one with a stem) without bruises. When you go shopping for it, take along a photocopy of your design to test it out for size and impact.
  • If you haven’t done this before, just stick with a simple design and make it the best you can. It takes practice and you can move on to more difficult designs with time.
  • Rub vegetable oil or petroleum jelly onto freshly cut areas to delay aging.
  • Once carved, your pumpkin will only keep two-to-five days. Ideally, carve your pumpkin the day before you plan to use it and keep in the refrigerator. If a shriveled design needs refreshing, soak the pumpkin in water for two-to-eight hours, but DON’T over-soak or it may crack. Then dry your pumpkin off, as standing water will soften it.

Jack O Lantern Patterns

For the less creative among us, there are many sites that offer Jack O’ Lantern patterns you can print out and use to transfer the design to your pumpkin. Here are a few you can check out:

I personally love this Jack-O-Lantern design.