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Halloween Pumpkin Heads Tutorial

3″ styrofoam balls
1/4″ dowels, 12 to 14″ long
tacky glue
Paper Perfect
palette knife

acrylic paint:
burnt orange
crocus yellow
burnt umber
country red
hot shots red

short pieces of tree branch
rusty wire

I have my supplies all gathered and have actually already glued the dowels into the styrofoam balls.


Using the palette knife, spread the paper perfect over the styrofoam ball, as thinly and evenly as possible, while still getting good coverage. It really doesn’t matter what color of Paper Perfect you use (it comes in several colors). You’ll be painting it all orange anyway.


Two down and several more to go! Once the balls are all covered with Paper Perfect, they have to dry at least 24 hours. Check carefully to see if they’re dry before proceeding.



Once dry, apply a basecoat of burnt orange acrylic paint, using a foam brush or old bristle brush. Even when you get a nice coat of Paper Perfect on the styrofoam, it’s still rough, so it’s a little hard on a brush getting the paint into the uneven texture. Don’t use your best brush!



Next, glue the short pieces of tree branch into the top of the styrofoam balls and allow the glue to dry.


While the glue is drying you can paint the dowels black. A foam brush works best for this.


Now it’s time for the fun to begin! Basecoat the mouth and eye shapes with antique white acrylic paint. (I just freehand the shapes in, but you could draw them in with a chalk pencil if i makes you feel more comfortable!) It will take at least two coats for nice coverage. I usually do all the white and then go back and add noses and details with black acrylic. But if you want to do one at a time, that’s fine! The noses, eyeballs and details on the mouth are added with black. Also outline the eyes and mouth in black. When the black eyeballs are dry, add a small triangle of antique white at the top of each. With Crocus yellow, add a thin line on the angled side of the nose.

They’re coming along!


I’ve added a couple with a toothless grin. They’re a little quicker to paint, without all the toothy details! Just base in a mouth, triangular eyes and nose, in black and outline in crocus yellow, with a dot of yellow in the eye for character.

Now add red cheeks at the corners of the mouths. I use a round brush for this.


Now highlight the tops of the cheeks with Hotshots Red. It’s pretty bright! We’ll tone it down a little, later.



The basic faces are done, so now we need to add shading for depth and interest.

Using burnt umber acrylic, side load a flat or angled brush.


Begin outlining all the features in burnt umber, using the side loaded brush. Keep your brush moist. You’ll find that the Paper Perfect pulls the moisture out of the brush so you’ll have to re-moisten and re-load often.


Once you’ve outlined all the features, shade between the top and bottom teeth with the side loaded brush, shade under the upper lip, and around the black eyeball (on the white of the eye). Keep these sideloads less intense than the rest. You don’t want to end up with brown teeth & eyes!

You can see the difference here between the face without shading and the one with it. With your sideloaded brush and a watered down side load of burnt umber, soften the bright red of the highlighted cheeks.


Here’s the whole gang, all finished—well as far as the painting goes!


Now it’s time to add the finishing touches. Using rusty wire, insert it into the head slightly, beside the branch on top. This just holds it in place while you curl the wire around the branch. Curl it around several times and cut with wire cutters. Bend the cut end so that it doesn’t stick out. It’s sharp and you don’t want to get scratched!

The next step should be spraying the balls and dowels with clear acrylic, but that makes them difficult to photograph, so I’m skipping it for now. Later I can move the bows out of the way and spray them.


Now we’ll add their bowties. Using torn strips of fall colored fabrics, tie bows under their chins. The strips are about 16-18″ long, depending on how long you want the tails to be.



And here they are, all decked out in their spiffy bow ties and ready for the Halloween party! These are available in my Etsy shop, Toletally Painted:

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