Turn Your Favorite Book Covers into Pumpkin Carving Patterns

halloween reads
Today we have an exclusive post from YA enthusiast & pumpkin-carving expert Christie Speich, teaching us how to turn our favorite book covers into a pattern you can carve on pumpkins. Christie is a former Novel Novice staff member, and her pumpkin carving mastery has been featured on MTV, People magazine, Lionsgate social media, and more. (Seriously, she is a PRO.)

In addition to teaching us how to create our own patterns, Christie has included some brand-new, original designs just for us featuring some of this year’s hottest books, as well as rounding up some popular favorites!

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HungerGames_ChristieSpeich-Halloween will be here before you know it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be representing your favorite books in pumpkins. In fact, my obsession with carving pumpkins started thanks to my obsession with Twilight.

My first ever “advanced” pumpkin carving was a rendition of the Twilight movie poster. After that rotted away in days, I learned about foam pumpkins, and more and more involved patterns.

The great news is that pumpkin patterns for YA books are generally easy to find thanks to YA’s popularity the last several years. You can find free pumpkin patterns as well as ones for purchase (and for cheap!)

Of course, it’s usually the most popular books that have the most variety of pattern options available, and maybe your favorites aren’t out there. So I’m going to teach you a way to make a basic pumpkin carving pattern based on your favorite book. (You could use it for any design, really.)

I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to create this Percy Jackson-themed pattern, which you can download for free among several others that I created.


About Pumpkin Patterns

There are basically two types of pumpkin carving patterns: ones with just cut-outs and ones that also include shading.

Shading is when you shave off the pumpkin skin, but not cut through the flesh completely. It results in a section that is darker in color than the pieces that are cut out, but lighter than the pumpkin that remains intact. This gives the carving depth.

In pumpkin patterns, shading is usually represented with gray, while parts that are cut out are represented with black. Many websites that sell pumpkin patterns show “mockups” of the pattern so you can see what it looks like once it’s carved (like the picture above). In mockups, the shading is represented in orange, the cut outs are represented in yellow, and the pumpkin left intact is represented in black.

Tips to Remember!

tipYou’re working with 2 colors: light and dark. If you decide to include shading in your pattern, you’ll have 3 colors: light, dark, and medium.

Don’t leave any “floaters” in your pattern. That means in an area that you plan to cut out, you can’t have any non-cut out pieces within it. In this example, if you cut out the “a”, the red area would fall out.

Making the pattern

What we’re doing with this method is basically making a silhouette of the design.

  • Choose what part of the book cover you’re going to put on the pumpkin. You can either work in a graphics program like Photoshop or do it by hand.

If by hand, print out the image, and trace the outline of the object onto a fresh sheet of paper. Do not color it in.

If with software, outline the object in black and fill it in. Erase anything from the image that you don’t want in your pumpkin. Make the background white.

In the case of my example, it’s the Pegasus.


  • This shape is what will remain in the pumpkin, so you can add cutouts or shading to this shape. Draw those in.

If you are drawing by hand, color the cut outs black and the shading parts gray.

If you are using software, color the cut outs white and the shading parts gray.

In the case of my example, it’s the eye, wings, and other details.


  • Draw a circle (or square, triangle, or whatever fits the look you want) around your shape. Connect the shape to the edge of the circle in at least one place. The more or the larger the connections are, the better. The less connections, the harder to carve.


  • If you are drawing by hand, color the inside of the circle black, except where your design is.
  • If you are using software, fill in the area outside of the circle black. Then use your software’s Invert feature to reverse the image. All the parts that were black will become white, and all the parts that were white will become black. The gray parts will remain gray.

CHB-Step4As you can see, although there are multiple points the Pegasus is connected to the circle, each one is pretty narrow. This is a carve that would requires patience and careful cutting. I’d recommend doing the shading first, then cut out the circle in sections, starting with the wings and then the mane.


If you want to include letters in your design, there are three options:

  • Shade them completely. In this case, you simply shade the whole letter just how it is.


  • If you want them cut out, many of the letters will work just fine as is. However, some such as O, A, B, etc. will require a little additional work:
    1. Color in the letter with black to mark it as a cut out
    2. Add in shaded areas that will connect the middle piece to the rest of the pumpkin. Color these areas gray


  • Just cut out the letter. You won’t have the middle piece, but it might be the look you want.


Remember, this is just a basic, simple method for creating pumpkin carving patterns. Turning an image into a pumpkin carving with depth is an art form. It’s worth the small price of a pumpkin carving pattern if you can find what you want.

Pumpkin Patterns

Here are some YA-themed pumpkin patterns I’ve found over the last couple of years. Some are free and some are not. Scroll down for LOTS of options.

I’ve created several free patterns for you as well:

Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Dumplin-mockup Dumplin2-mockup dumplin-crown2-mockup dumplin-crown-mockup

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Game-of-Love-and-Death2-moc Game-of-Love-and-Death-mock

Percy Jackson, Camp Half-Blood

Half-Blood-Camp-mockup Half-Blood-Camp3-mockup

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Paper Towns by John Greene (movie poster)


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh


Harry Potter







Hunger Games


Kate Hart as done several pumpkin carving patterns for YA books and she gives them away free. (Please watch for “floaters” in some of her patterns.)

About the Author

Eleanor-and-Park-cspeich-weAspiring YA author Christie Speich has been carving pumpkins since she was a kid, but it’s only been since 2008 that she’s been carving awesome pumpkins. Since then, her pumpkins have won contests and been featured by People Magazine. Christie has created step-by-step video tutorials for pumpkin carving, and offers over 40 free pumpkin carving patterns for download at her website, Carve Awesome Pumpkins.


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