Although pumpkin carving is one of the traditional Halloween activities, it’s also one that’s quite messy and can be frustrating for younger kids. Instead, you can try drawing a design on a pumpkin, saving you all the mess and giving you more creative freedom!
So, what do you need to know about drawing on a pumpkin? Drawing on a pumpkin is pretty easy, as long as you have the right markers or paint and a bit of patience. The surface of a pumpkin takes permanent marker and acrylic paint well, but can be difficult to get a clean design because of the bumpy nature of the surface.
Drawing on a pumpkin is a much cleaner way to decorate your front porch for Halloween. You can even choose to decorate it in a way that it can transition seamlessly from Halloween to Thanksgiving, making your hard work last longer.
Supplies For Drawing On A Pumpkin
To get started drawing on a pumpkin, you’ll need to have the right supplies.
There are several types of paint and markers you can use, so we’ll dive more into those details in the section below. When choosing your set of paintbrushes, make sure you have the right sizes for your pumpkin design.
If you plan to paint the entire pumpkin one base color, you’ll need a brush big enough for the job. If you want to do small detail work, you’ll need finer tip brushes.
Paper towels are good not only for wiping off the surface of the pumpkin, but for wiping your paintbrush between colors or wiping off areas of the pumpkin where your paint may have gotten away from you.
For smaller areas of your design that you want to clean up, we recommend using cotton swabs. The smaller tip is helpful for wiping away the edges of a design to help keep the lines clean.
Painter’s tape is optional. You can either use it to tape on your stencil, or to tape out your own design on the pumpkin, like for a spider web.
There are a lot of options when it comes to stencils. You can choose a decorative design like this floral stencil that would cover the whole pumpkin, or these filigree stencils that would create a nice border around the pumpkin.
If you want to create your own phrase, simply get a set of letter stencils to paint on your own words.
Finally, Mod Podge is a good sealer if you plan to keep your newly decorated pumpkin outside. It will protect your drawing from the rain or any possible snow.
Best Types Of Markers And Paint For Drawing On A Pumpkin
Although drawing on a pumpkin implies that you’ll be using a marker or pen of some kind, it can sometimes be easier to create a design on a pumpkin with paint.
You can always draw on your design with a ballpoint pen to get the image on the pumpkin, then fill in the design with paint for the final look.
We recommend keeping both options, markers and paint, open until you learn more about how each works on a pumpkin and consider which will be best for your design.
Let’s explore the different types of markers and paints that work best for drawing on a pumpkin.
1. Permanent Marker
If you know for sure that you want to work with markers, we recommend using permanent markers.
Permanent markers work best to create solid coverage on a pumpkin that won’t wash away in the rain.
The main thing to consider when using permanent markers is the shape and size of the tip.
To get the most color options, you’ll likely have to get a set of fine point permanent markers, like the set we linked above.
The drawback is that fine point markers won’t cover a lot of surface area quickly, so you’ll be taking a lot of time to get the design right.
You can get a set of chisel tip permanent markers, but these typically don’t come in the wide variety of colors that the fine tip sets do.
Keep in mind that permanent markers will start to dry out and lose saturation the more you use them on the waxy surface of the pumpkin, so it will likely take multiple layers of coloring to get the right color saturation.
2. Washable Marker
Carving jack-o-lantern’s has been a longstanding children’s tradition at Halloween time. However, carving pumpkins is messy, and it can take a lot of strength to get the carving tools to cut through the thick flesh of the pumpkin.
Instead, you can give your child a set of washable markers and a pumpkin. They can draw all over the pumpkin in whatever design they want.
The best part about using washable markers is that you can wipe the design away with baby wipes, then let your kids draw a whole new design.
3. Paint Pens
Paint pens are the best choice for someone who wants to draw on their pumpkin, but doesn’t want to sacrifice the full color saturation to do so.
You can still hold a pen in your hand and draw on your design, but since the pen is paint instead of markers, it will hold up better against the waxy surface of the pumpkin and create full layers of color.
With paint pens, you’ll still need to pay attention to the size and shape of the tip to ensure you have the right size for your design. Bigger designs will take longer with fine tips, but you may need fine tips you want small details.
Just as with any paint, you’ll want to do multiple layers to get a solid block of color. Make sure each layer of paint has fully dried before moving on to the next layer.
4. Acrylic Paint
Instead of using paint pens or markers, it may be easier to just get a set of paints and some paintbrushes to draw on your pumpkin.
Using paint is advantageous because not only do you get a full color spectrum, but you can also achieve any design whether large or small because you can use a variety of paintbrushes in different sizes and shapes.
The ability to use a large paintbrush and a small one for the same color make acrylic paints a much better option for drawing on pumpkins if you want more artistic and creative freedom.
You even get more color options, not only because acrylic paint sets tend to come with a lot of colors, but because you can mix them to create any color you want.
5. Spray Paint
For those looking for more of a full-coverage look on their pumpkin, a spray paint can save you a lot of time and energy. Instead of using a big paintbrush or marker and trying to cover the entire pumpkin by hand, use a can of spray paint.
Of course, with spray paint, you’ll need a few extra supplies such as cardboard to lay the pumpkin on and a breathing mask for you while you spray.
Other than that, all you need is a can of spray paint! Pay attention to the finish level of the spray paint before purchasing to ensure you get the look you want.
Once you’ve spray painted the whole pumpkin, we recommend switching to permanent markers, paint pens, or acrylic paint to draw on your design.
Tips And Tricks For Drawing On A Pumpkin
The best tip when it comes to drawing on a pumpkin is that sometimes, to draw on your pumpkin, you actually have to use paint.
Sure, you can still draw on your pumpkin with permanent markers, but you won’t get the same rich coverage as you would with paint.
Another tip is to always wipe down your pumpkin before getting started. Pumpkins are naturally covered in dirt, dust, and other natural debris from growing outside.
Get a damp paper towel and wipe off the surface of the pumpkin before you start drawing. This will clean way any of those small dirt or dust particles still clinging to the surface.
When it comes to drawing on a pumpkin, you can either freehand your design or use a stencil. If you plan to use a stencil, we recommend the self-adhesive kind.
Regular plastic stencils that you can lay over paper don’t work well on pumpkins because they don’t conform to the bumpy ridges of the pumpkin’s surface.
You can try to tape a plastic stencil onto the pumpkin, but your design will likely look a little messy. Instead, we recommend using self-adhesive stencils that can stick to the surface of the pumpkin, conforming to the rises and dips to keep your design neat.
If you have a design that you absolutely love but it’s a plastic stencil, we recommend tracing the stencil onto the pumpkin with a ballpoint pen or fine tip permanent marker, then removing the stencil and coloring in the design with your markers or paint.
One small detail some people may forget when drawing on a pumpkin is the stem. Many people choose a simple design when drawing on pumpkins, choosing to just draw on a small jack-o-lantern face or Halloween design on the front and leaving the rest of the pumpkin natural.
However, if you plan to spray paint the whole pumpkin to make it a different color, don’t forget about the stem. Your pumpkin will look awkward if the whole thing is spray painted gold while the stem is left natural.
When you’re choosing your design, don’t forget to factor in the stem.
How To Draw On A Pumpkin
Drawing on a pumpkin is incredibly simple. Gather all the supplies you’ve chosen for your project, then you can get started.
- Wipe down the pumpkin with a damp paper towel. This will ensure the pumpkin has a clean, smooth surface. Then wipe with a dry paper towel to dry it off.
- If you plan to change the color of the whole pumpkin, now is the time to spray paint. Ensure that your pumpkin is placed on a piece of cardboard in the grass at least 10 feet from your house. Use a mask when spraying the spray paint. Refer to the can instructions for the proper distance to hold the can from the pumpkin while you spray. Allow spray paint to dry completely before continuing.
- Transfer your design. You can do this by taping on a plastic stencil and tracing, using a self-adhesive stencil, outlining your own design with painter’s tape, or simply free handing the outline of your own design with a pen or marker.
- With your design in place, use your chosen method of coloring the pumpkin. You can use permanent markers, paint pens, or acrylic paint.
- Depending on your color saturation and design, you may need to apply more than one coat of paint or layer of marker coloring. Allow each layer to dry before moving on to the next layer.
After your final layer dries, you’re done! You can choose to seal your design in a layer of Mod Podge or just leave as is.
Mod Podge will protect your newly decorated pumpkin from the elements, so we recommend doing this step if you plan to keep it outdoors. If your decorated pumpkin is going to be an indoor decoration, this step may not be necessary.
Ideas For Drawing On A Pumpkin
You might be excited about all the possibilities of drawing on a pumpkin, but not have a clear idea of what design to do. That’s okay! There are plenty of ideas you can use to design your own drawn or painted pumpkin.
A great place to start is with the classic jack-o-lantern face. It’s an easier and cleaner way to still make a jack-o-lantern without all the mess and hard work of carving a pumpkin.
You can also go simple by just using a classic pattern, such as stripes or polka dots. These designs are easy to achieve by hand or just using painter’s tape, so they’re great for those who don’t have a natural artistic talent.
If you want to stick with classic Halloween designs but aren’t a great artist, you can also use painter’s tape to create your own spider web design on the pumpkin. Once you’ve finished drawing or painting your design, you can glue a spider or another creepy crawly on the pumpkin!
You can also add a classic element of Halloween spookiness by using glow-in-the-dark paint instead of regular paint. Glow-in-the-dark paint will make your design look fun and colorful in the daytime, while giving it a bright, fun glow at night.
If none of these designs are sparking your imagination, try searching for some stencils online. There are tons of different stencils you can use to give your pumpkin a custom look.