I wanted to carve something a little less traditional for Halloween this year. Digging through the ThinkGeek pumpkin template archive I discovered a ready-made black-and-white stencil to mimic the in-game Jack-o-lanterns from Minecraft.
If you’ve never played Minecraft, understanding that pumpkins are something of a residual anomaly in the game might give you a better sense of their meaning. The game itself seems to have evolved over the last year, adding new features here, dropping a few over there. But pumpkins, serving no real purpose other than as this random decoration that seems to have lingered from a year-old Halloween-adjacent update, have stuck around. And they don’t do much more than glow.
They are also decidedly 8-bit… y’know: pixel-based. Squarish. And requiring something of a careful eye when it comes to chopping out near-literal bits when one is so otherwise tempted to just hack away in flowing curves.
This resulted in less intricate work than I would have imagined. I mean, conceptually the idea of carving a series of believable 8-bit pixels from a spherical-ish orb might have posed a few more problems.
er to cut right through the pumpkin shell, too. Something I’ve really discovered in recent years is the careful art of pumpkin detail: shaving the thick orange rind off a few millimeters deep and exposing the softer flesh as part of the design.
This particular design called for that technique specifically.
The shading-styled pixels in the original appear in the stencil as those trimmed sort-of details. One normally slices the pattern a shade into the rind with a sharp knife, then very carefully wedges the same knife into a delicate, prying position to slice laterally the top bit of thick rind from the surface. This action exposes the softer flesh (as I noted before) leaving a paler bit of detail work behind.
What happens though, then, is that when your pumpkin is sitting out in the dark of evening with a candle glowing inside, there is a different lighting quality to those bits of detail.
It’s fairly spooky.
A bunch more hacking, slicing, chopping, and cleaning — and a lot of breaks to wash my hands and take more photos — and the end result was pretty neat.
(And it would have looked awesome with a square pumpkin, of course.)
But for a little more than an hour’s labour — watched carefully by one impatient little girl — the results were pretty Minecraft-y. And considering I probably would have spent the time just playing Minecraft instead… hey… this works too.
There are a whole lot more photos — and some Halloween evening images too — in my gallery. Feel free to post links to your own pumpkin art below. Or start submitting suggestions for NEXT HALLOWEEN!