Step-by-step, design your own pumpkin—or a whole family of them!—for fall projects, and then follow along to turn them into Jack O’Lanterns for Halloween decor.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Silhouette Studio design tools, this is a great project to start with to see how they work. I’ve broken the process down into easy steps and included lots of pictures. When you’re finished, you’ll have a pumpkin you created yourself, and some Silhouette design skills tucked into your belt that you can use to design future projects of the non-pumpkin type.
For this tutorial, I’m using Silhouette Studio Designer Edition version 3.3.638 (V3) and version 4.0.837 (V4), but the Basic Edition software can handle this project just fine.
A note about working size…
Since a finished design can be sized to whatever size you like, the size you design in doesn’t matter to the finished project. Zoom in and out as needed. I like to zoom in close to see details easier, and zoom out when I need a big picture view. If you find you’ve maxed out the zoom distance but still want to get in closer, increase the size of the whole design (select all by right-clicking then choosing ‘Select All’, then drag one of the corners to make the whole design larger).
STEP ONE: Using the ‘Draw an Ellipse’ tool in the left toolbar, draw an oval—or “ellipse” as the mathematicians like to call it—that is about the shape of an egg. In V4, to find the Draw an Ellipse tool, move your cursor over the shape drawing tool icon (AA) to reveal the shape menu, then click on the ellipse shape (BB).
In V3 & V4: Select the oval and duplicate it twice (to duplicate, right-click, and select ‘Duplicate’ from the list).
STEP THREE: Select the lone oval, then select the point on the right side and drag it to the left to make the oval narrower. I changed the line color to black on the new narrower oval to make things clearer.
STEP FIVE: Weld all three ovals together (to do that, select all three (holding the shift key down will allow you to select more than one at a time), right-click, and select ‘Weld’ from the list). You should get something that looks pretty pumpkin-y:To make a taller or squatter pumpkin, you can either start with a taller or squatter oval (go ahead, try it!) or select your welded pumpkin, and drag one of the side squares.
STEP SIX: The stem. To create an organic-looking stem, I used the freehand line drawing tool. Now, if you’ve never used any of the freehand drawing tools in Silhouette Studio and you’re freaking out at the thought of it, stop. . . get back to breathing normally. . . and follow along with me. :^) I promise it’s super easy to do. And since stems come in a variety of shapes, your drawn stem can be a variety of shapes, too, so no artistic drawing skills are required, which is good, because I have none.
Here are a half dozen I drew quickly without thinking about it much, and any one of them will work as a pumpkin stem.So, here’s how it works. Every shape in Silhouette Studio is made up of lines connected together with points. The points tell the lines which way to go. When you drew the oval earlier, the Studio software automatically placed the points where they needed to be to make an oval. To draw a stem, though, it will be you who decides where the points go, not the software. It’s actually quite simple: Each time you click the mouse (left-click), the software will add a point to your drawing to give it shape.
Here we go…
In V3: Use the ‘Draw a Curve Shape’ tool in the left tool bar (it looks like a figure 8).
In V4: Move your cursor over the line drawing tool icon (CC) to reveal the menu, then click on the ‘Draw a Curve Shape’ icon (DD).
In V3 & V4: First thing you need to do is create a slanted, blobby, rectangle-ish shape. We’ll resize it all later, so don’t worry about size. Start by clicking on the ‘Draw a Curve Shape’ tool, then click somewhere in your mat design area (A). Using the mouse, move the cursor in a downward angle to the left (I’m starting at the upper left of the stem and working my way around counterclockwise). Click to leave a point (B), then move a bit to the right, click to leave a point (C), move upward to the right a bit, click to leave a point (D), then move back toward your starting point. As soon as you get a single red dot on a line with a blue square on each end (E), click to join them together to complete the shape. You should have a lovely oblong-y blob. Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like mine…approximate is fine.
It’s actually an okay stem as is, but we can make it look even more stem-like. . .
STEP SEVEN: Duplicate your blob a few times (to do that, select the blob, right-click, choose ‘Duplicate’). Then drag one of the blobs away from the rest and double-click on it to reveal the edit points you just drew.Add another edit point on the right side. (to do that, slowly move the cursor toward the right side of the blob. As you get closer, the cursor will change from an arrow to a hand and then from the hand to a line with a tiny arrow pointing away from it. When you get the tiny arrow+line, click to add a new edit point on the line.STEP EIGHT: Select the new edit point you just added and drag it toward the left, until you get a shape you like, then release the mouse. That looks more like a stem, don’t you think? Try different locations for the new edit point. You can move it higher or lower, far left or not-so-far left. Each place you leave it will make the stem a slightly different shape.
Here are a few different stems I created by moving the new edit point on the blob above. I filled them with color so you could see them better. Any one of them will work as a stem.The cool thing is. . . What you just did to the new edit point (selecting and moving it) you can do to any other point on your blob. And when you select a point, check out the blue squares on the ends of the line going through it. Toggle the blue squares and watch the angle of the line change. Select a blue square and see what happens when you lengthen or shorten the line by moving your cursor. With so many possible adjustments, you can create whatever shape you want. So, go ahead, grab another of your blobs, drag it away from the rest, and experiment. . .move points, toggle the blue squares, shorten and lengthen the lines. . . play until you have a stem you like.
So now we have the pumpkin shape and a stem. Time to put them together. . .
STEP NINE: Move everything off your mat design area except for the pumpkin and the stem you want to use. Resize the stem to match the size of the pumpkin (to resize the stem, select it and drag one of the corner points). Drag the stem to the top of the pumpkin.At this point, I find the next steps easier if I fill the pumpkin and stem with color and change the line color to none. Click here for instructions on how to change fill and line color. I chose orange as the fill color. . . hey, it’s a pumpkin!
STEP TEN: Move the stem until you have as much stem showing as you’d like. Remember you can also change the angle of the stem by selecting the green dot (F) and dragging it. As you can see, I gave mine a slight angle.
STEP ELEVEN: When you’re happy with how the stem is sitting on the pumpkin, weld the two shapes together (select them both, right-click, then select ‘Weld’ from the menu). It won’t look any different, but you can tell the parts have welded because now when you select the pumpkin, you get one big selection box that includes the pumpkin and the stem.
The eyes & nose…
When I was a kid, our Jack O’Lanterns always had triangles for eyes and an upside-down triangle for a nose, so in the spirit of tradition, that’s what I’m going to do here.
Silhouette Studio doesn’t have an automatic ‘Draw a Triangle’ tool as it does for ovals and rectangles. Not a problem, though. Just use the ‘Draw a Polygon’ tool. In V3, it’s the hourglass shape in the left toolbar; in V4, it’s the hourglass shape next to the ‘Draw a Curve Shape’ icon you used earlier. The Polygon drawing tool works the same as the ‘Draw a Curve Shape’ tool you used for the stem, but instead of curves, you’ll get straight lines and corners—exactly what you need to make a triangle. The points you add will become the corners of the triangle. Again, I’m starting with the top point and working my way around counterclockwise.
Click on the ‘Draw a Polygon’ tool icon, then click somewhere in your design mat area (A), move down and left, click to leave a point (B), move to the right, click to leave a point (C), then back to the top point (A). When the two red dots become a single dot, click to complete the triangle.If your triangle turns out a little askew and you want to modify it, double-click on it to reveal the three edit points. Drag one or more of the edit points until you get a triangle you like.
Duplicate the triangle a couple of times to give you three triangles. Two are eyes. To turn the third one into a nose, simply flip it upside down (to do that, select it, right-click, then select ‘Flip Vertically’). Now your eyes and nose are ready to go. I changed the fill color to black and line color to none.
Basic Mouth Shape #1
In V3: Click on the ‘Knife’ tool in the left toolbar (G), which will open the ‘Knives’ window on the right. In that window, under ‘Knives’, click on ‘Straight’ (H)(in Designer Edition only), and under ‘Treat Unfilled Shapes as’, click on ‘Solid’ (K), then draw a line through the lower part of the oval (L).
In V4: Click on the ‘Knife’ tool in the left toolbar (EE), which will reveal the knife toolbar at the top. Select ‘Solid’ shape (FF), and ‘Straight’ line (GG), then draw a line through the lower part of the oval (HH).
In V3 & V4: When you release the mouse, your oval will be cut in two. The bottom half is the basic mouth shape. You can select the top part and delete it.
Basic Mouth Shape #2
Using the Draw an Ellipse’ tool, first draw a circle and then an oval. Arrange them so the part at the bottom gives a nice smiling mouth shape (I’ve shaded it so you can see the mouth better).Subtract the two shapes. To do that. . .
In V3: Select the oval and circle (hold down the shift key to select more than one object at a time), click on the ‘Open the Modify Window’ icon in the upper tool bar (M), then click ‘Subtract’ (P).
In V4: Select the oval and circle (hold down the shift key to select more than one object at a time), click on the ‘Open the Modify Panel’ icon (KK), then click ‘Subtract’ (LL).
In V3 & V4: You should get a smile something like this.
…then, thank you, :^) you’ve just demonstrated how the Subtract tool works. This is what happens when you draw the oval first instead of the circle. Why does that make a difference, you ask? Well, when you draw a second shape, the software automatically puts it in front of the first shape. It’s easier to see when the shapes are filled with color:
If you got the second shape instead of the smiling mouth, you don’t have to redraw the shapes in the right order, simply send the circle to the back (to do that, select the circle, then right-click, and select ‘Send to Back’ from the list). Once the circle has been sent to the back (under the oval), when you use the Subtract tool, the oval will cut out the circle to give you the smiling mouth.
Duplicate your two basic mouth shapes a few times. I like to set aside the original shapes off the mat, so if I need to make more, I still have the originals to duplicate.
Use the ‘Draw a Rectangle’ tool to draw some small tooth-like rectangles.
In V3: The ‘Draw a Rectangle’ tool is in the left toolbar.
In V4: The ‘Draw a Rectangle’ tool is in the left toolbar in the same menu as the ‘Draw an Ellipse’ tool (second to the left).
In V3 & V4: Arrange the teeth as you like inside the mouths (I drew one rectangle and duplicated it to get the number I needed, but if you want more variety, you can make each one individually). Play around with positioning (straight or following the curve) how much tooth you’ll see in the mouth (short wide teeth, tall narrow teeth, whatever you like.To rotate a rectangle, select it, and drag the green dot.
You’ll use the Subtract tool again to make the mouth, but before you do, when you have an arrangement you like, send the mouth to the back so the teeth are in front (to do that, select the mouth, right-click, and select ‘Send to Back’ from the list). Then when you use the Subtract tool, the teeth (because they’re in front) will cut out from the mouth (if you leave the mouth on top, subtracting will lose the mouth shape and give you some weird assortment of teeth only). Once you’ve moved the mouth to the back, select it and all its teeth and subtract like you did for Mouth #2. This will join the mouth and teeth together to give you a new mouth shape. Change the fill color to black and line color to none.
Putting it all together…
Duplicate all the parts and drag one set off the mat to use to make more parts later. Drag a mouth, nose, and pair of eyes onto the pumpkin and arrange the face to your liking. If something disappears when you try to drag it onto the pumpkin, select the pumpkin, then click on the ‘Send to Back’ icon. (In V3, it’s in the bottom toolbar, in V4, it’s in the upper toolbar.)
If you want to make more than one pumpkin (I made five for my garland), duplicate the pumpkin and face parts as needed to create more pumpkins. When you have a pumpkin you like, select all the parts and group them together (right-click, then select ‘Group’ from the list). Here’s my little bevy of pumpkin beauties.
Resize your completed pumpkins to suit whatever you want to use them for. (to do that, select the pumpkin, then drag one of the corners). For my mini garlands, I made some pumpkins 2″ wide and some 2½” wide, and for the Halloween Hershey’s Kisses holders I made them 1.6″ wide, but you could size them to fit an 8½x11 sheet or larger…whatever fits your project.
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