Halloween is great fun, especially at night when the candles are lit and pumpkins glow – the carvings capturing everything from leering faces to incredible works of art. If you fancy creating an intricate and impressive carving this Halloween, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are some brilliant tips on how to get the perfect pumpkin…

1. Plan ahead

The first step is to decide on the design that you want for your pumpkin. This will determine how long it takes to carve and what size you have to buy. Jo Brownlie, expert wood carver and owner of Jo Brownlie Creations, recommends using a taller pumpkin for a long face and a fatter pumpkin for a wider face or image.

2. Sort your kit

You will need a pencil for drawing on your pumpkin, a sharp knife, a metal spoon for scraping out seeds and flesh, a bin and, finally, some candles.

“A blunt knife is a big no-no,” says Jo. “Instead of nice clean lines you’ll get messy edges, and you’ll have to work twice as hard.”

3. Prepare the pumpkin

Another mistake that Jo is quick to highlight is forging ahead with your carving before you have scooped out the seeds and flesh.

“If you don’t take those out first, it will take forever as you’ll have twice as much flesh to cut through,” she says. “Alternatively, scooping out too much from the interior will make your carving too thin and it will wilt when the candle is lit. You need about one inch of flesh inside.”

4. Take your time

Draw your design onto the pumpkin with a pencil, not a pen, as this allows you to rub markings off if things go wrong.

“It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw very well, as long as your pumpkin has eyes, a nose and a mouth,” she says. “Once it is lit it will look fantastic.”

5. Be adventurous

If you fancy having a pumpkin that looks like a scene from a movie or a perfect representation of a famous face, you can cheat by using tracing materials. One solution is to purchase a stencil that is flexible and easily bent to fit the curve of the pumpkin. Trace the outline using dark pencil or use a sharp implement to stab holes into the flesh.

Alternatively, you can print out your chosen image, rub the back in graphite pencil and then trace the image onto the pumpkin using a ballpoint pen. The pressure will mark the pumpkin as you go. Make sure you stick the paper on firmly before you start! You can also use the pin prick method with a printout by stabbing along the outline of the design directly onto the surface of the pumpkin.

6. Let it shine

Finally, when you’ve put your carving tools down and are looking at the fabulously finished product, it is time to pop the candle inside. “Make sure your candle isn’t too tall, I’ve had a couple of burned pumpkin lids in the past!” says Jo.

This article was commissioned via NewsCred's NewsRoom and written by freelance contributor Tamsin Oxford.