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Family how-to: carve a Halloween pumpkin inspired by the RA Collection

Published 26 October 2018

Have a go at using a stencil to carve a pumpkin this Halloween. These stencils are all inspired by artworks from the RA Collection. Download it and get crafting!

    • Skull gif family how to

      How to use your stencil

      • Print off the stencil on a sheet of A4 (choose the large or small option, depending on the size of your pumpkin). Or, using a mobile you could copy the design onto some A4 paper. If you’re using a tablet you could trace the design, or you could simply use it for inspiration.

      • If you’re printing your stencil, pin or tape the stencil to your pumpkin at the edges and flatten it down against the curve of the pumpkin.

      • Then, use an old biro, knitting needle, toothpick or pumpkin carving kit to punch dots into the pumpkin, tracing the edges of the grey pattern of the stencil. The red dots on the skull show you how to do this.

      • The grey parts are to cut out, the white parts are to keep intact.

      • You can then remove the stencil and carve along the dots, referring back to your stencil design as you go.

      • Make sure an adult supervises or does the carving.

    • Stencil 1: Tawny owl

      Eric Ravilious made this illustration of an owl from engraving a piece of wood. This means he carved into a piece of wood then used it to print the design on paper.

    • Eric Ravilious, Tawny Owl

      Eric Ravilious, Tawny Owl.

      Part of the RA CollectionWood-engraving. 58 mm x 50 mm. © Photo: John Hammond.

      Your inspiration

      Have you ever seen or heard an owl? What noise do you think they make?

    • Family how to halloween stencil owl


      Download and print or trace your stencil.

    • Stencil 3: Head of a ghostly figure

      This drawing is part of a collection of sketches by George Dance RA of fantastical creatures and figures.

    • George Dance RA, Head of a ghostly figure

      George Dance RA, Head of a ghostly figure.

      Part of the RA Collectionpencil on cream laid paper. 88 mm x 65 mm.

      Your inspiration

      Who do you think this ghostly figure is?

    • Family how-to template: Head of a ghostly figure


      Download and print or trace your stencil.

    • Stencil 4: Skull

      John Gilbert RA was one of the best-known illustrators of the Victorian age. This is a “study”, meaning he looked closely at a real skull in order to sketch it. He was famous for how quickly he could draw.

    • Sir John Gilbert RA, Study of a skull

      Sir John Gilbert RA, Study of a skull, 24th March 1859.

      Part of the RA Collectionpen and black ink with wash on cream wove paper. 127 mm x 145 mm.

      Your inspiration

      Can you make a quick study, like Gilbert’s skull, of an object you can find at home?

    • Family how-to: Carve a halloween pumpkin - skull stencil


      Download and print or trace your stencil

  • Share your pumpkin!

    Share a photo of your finished pumpkin with @royalacademy on Twitter or @royalacademyarts on Instagram using #familyhowto. We’ll be sharing photos of our favourites!

    • Relief printing header GIF family how-to

      Enjoyed this how-to?

      Our Family how-to series offers lots of ideas for family art activities to do at home in half-terms and holidays. You could try making a spinning paint-splatterer, crafting some multisensory slime or making a relief print with polystyrene!


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