Now that the pesky skin is out of the way, you’re ready to begin sculpting into the flesh of the rind. A good place to start is in the center of the face…The eyes. They don’t have to be in the middle of the pumpkin. They don’t even have to be symmetrical. Visualize on the blank canvas of peeled pumpkin front of you and determine approximately where you’d like the eyes to be. The eyes will be set deep into the face. Begin using your large or medium sized ribbon tools to lift out cavities of rind where you’d like the eyes to be. Eventually, these will be some of the deepest parts of your carving. You don’t have to go all the way down right away. It takes carving a few pumpkins to get a feel for just how much your have to work with.
During this and the next few steps, one should keep in mind that details will come later. All we are trying to do now is block in a very general shape. Next you will think about the shape and length of the nose. Begin carving in the recess under the tip of the nose. Go as deep as you did for the eyes. Timid about going deep? Good! Remember what I said about this being a subtractive technique? You can always take more away later. What you can’t do is put back anything you remove. It’s perfectly logical and a good strategy to remove the rind gradually. The only problem you will notice is that if you take too long on a carving the texture of the rind begins to change after a few hours. I couldn’t say exactly what is happening. Maybe the rind begins drying out some. If your working slowly, spritzing the exposed rind with water every so often could help. I have not tried this personally.
Since carving off too much is what you want to avoid, you’ll need to determine what parts of the face will protrude the most. The nose, no doubt…Also the chin…Hairline? Horns? Beard? These are areas you want to plan out and leave more rind there to work with.
Keep gradually forming the basic shapes of the face. Your goal should be to see the location of all the features without seeing any detail in them. You don’t have to frame the outline of the face, but if you want to, you could begin doing this now. Basically, start carving away the rind from the area outside where the face will be.
The next step after basic features would be to go into each of those features, one by one, and begin forming the basic parts of each feature. Inside the eye cavities, begin forming the convex shape of the eye and eyelids. Reference material is very helpful now, as always. You may be using smaller ribbon tools now. Outline the nose and begin forming the general slopes and nostrils. When you go into the mouth area, decide if you will have teeth or other details showing. If you have eyebrows on your pumpkin, leave them protruding and carve away the surrounding areas. Hair and other textures can come later.