Pick a high-contrast image

“The Bean pictured is great, for example, because you have lowlights and shadows, and you have highlights from the sky and the sun.”

Put the light in before you start

“If you carve with the light bulb in, you get a good sense of what you’re doing. It really gets your mind around what the finished project will look like, especially for a beginner.”

Channel your inner Psycho

“Try things like puncturing: Use a nail or a knife to stab the pumpkin so that you get a pinpoint of light, which is great for stars or bright spots in eyes. Just like with drawing, it’s all about utilizing different mark-making techniques.”

Don’t be afraid to let go

“Work past the idea that what you’re making is going to rot. It kind of makes it exciting: Nothing’s holding you back because it won’t even last a month anyway.”