Every Halloween since apps have been available on the iPhone, my family and I have used apps to design stencils for carving the face of at least one jack-o-lantern. The technique is pretty simple. Here is what we do:
1. Choose your jack-o-lantern face
First, you want to create a face that you can then use as a stencil. We’ve found several pumpkin-design apps that we like and that work in different ways.
Swipe and shake. Our favorite pumpkin-design app, Crazy Pumpkin, happens to be on the iPhone ($.99, Ezone, iTunes Link). Crazy Pumpkin gives you endless combinations of eyes, noses and mouths to choose from, and all you have to do is swipe to change the feature. Shake the iPhone to change the color of the design and hear a spooky noise.
Unfortunately Crazy Pumpkin is not available for iPad. The closest iPad app I’ve found is Halloween Pumpkin Creator ($.99, A3MG, iTunes Link).
Pinch and draw. If you are looking to get a little more sophisticated, Parents magazine has created Carve-a-Pumpkin for the iPad and is available for free in the app store (free, iTunes link). Carve-a-Pumpkin gives you a little more control of the elements that you place on the pumpkin. You can pinch to grow or shrink the design. However, while there are a lot of designs to choose from, you still do not have complete control over the design with this app.
If you want complete control over exactly how you want your pumpkin to look, try ABCya’s CarveIt! for both the iPhone and iPad ($.99, ABCya, iTunes Link). CarveIt! has a limited number of pumpkin “heads” to choose from, but it will allow you to draw freehand any face you want.
2. Print out your pumpkin masterpiece as a stencil
Now comes the fun part, taking your virtual iOS design and turning it into a real pumpkin. The next step is printing out the design to make a stencil.
- Transfer your design to an image file. Some of the aforementioned apps will save the image your photo library for you. If the app you’ve chosen does’t do that, you can always take a screenshot to get a printable image file of your final design.
- Print the image out. You can either sync your image to your computer and print it out from there or you can use AirPrint to print the image directly to the printer. If you do not have a printer that supports Apple’s AirPrint feature, there are a number of ways you can get around this limitation. My favorite happens to be Printopia
Transfer your design and carve your pumpkin
Once you have the stencil printed out, tape the sheet of paper to the pumpkin. Use a pushpin, awl, straight needle or other tool to poke holes in the outlines of the eyes, nose, and mouth into the pumpkin’s outer skin. This will create a connect-the-dots outline of the design right on the surface of the pumpkin. From here, use the outlines to carve the pumpkin.
3. More ways to create a stencil
There are several variations on this general theme. You can certainly use your favorite iOS drawing application, or even browse the web to select your favorite pumpkin image online. I’ve also used Photoshop to stretch and move some of the features around a bit to better fit our pumpkins.
For more family fun, you can even share the design experience with the entire family by projecting the pumpkin-carving app of your choice to your TV using the new iOS 5 Airplay Wireless Mirroring from your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S to your Apple TV. Carving a pumpkin will never be quite the same again.
How have you used Apple’s products to celebrate Halloween?
Pumpkin-carving and finished pumpkin photos by Geoffrey Goetz.