Pumpkin Portrait

Beth and Brian Sullivan on Jack-O-Lantern

Beth and Brian Sullivan on Jack-O-Lantern

I realize that fall doesn’t officially begin until September 21st, but I had my first apple pie of the year last night at a friend’s house warming party, and I love this time of year. So, I thought I’d do a post in honor of the beginning of autumn now.

When I was growing up, there was a pumpkin display in the town park each fall, and I was always impressed by the jack-o-lanterns that looked like celebrities or otherwise realistic looking faces. So when I went to the Keene Pumpkin Festival with some friends a few years ago, I thought I’d try my hand at a pumpkin self-portrait of me and Beth. (Not that we are celebrities, but I think we have at least potentially realistic looking faces…) I started out with this photo:
1
If you are interested in turning any photos into jack-o-lanterns, here is the method I used…
I loaded the above photo in the GIMP, a free, open-source image editing program. The first step was to increase the contrast on the image enough to remove some detail and simplify the shapes.Then I erased some background and added an ellipse mask:
4
Next I posterized to reduce the shades of grey to 3 (white, grey, and black):
5
From there I used bucket fill to assign each of the grey fields to either white or black, depending which one looked better on a case by case basis. I found that this yielded a more recognizable image than just posterizing to 2 colors from the start:

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I inverted this image to get a negative (mostly to save ink), and printed a copy, which I then stapled to the pumpkin. I transferred the picture by poking through along all the lines with a sharp stylus. I cut all the way through the pumpkin in the part of the oval outside our heads. Then I removed just the skin from the light parts of our faces with a pointy knife, and scraped away at the inside until a headlamp placed inside the pumpkin showed through nicely in a darkened room.
carving

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