We’re officially a week+ into October, meaning it’s high time for a fall decor DIY post up in here! Our strategy this season? Paint. All. The Things. Specifically, the pumpkins. I’ll save you some scrolling. Here are the final products:
We have quite the collection of faux pumpkins…some are of the nicer/sturdier/more realistic variety, some are covered in glitter, some are cheap on-sale gourds I painted white years ago, and some are those “Funkins” you can carve.
Our nice/sturdy/realistic pumpkins were good. Love em, keepin’ em as is. The glitter pumpkins I’m not in love with but I dunno if painting over glitter would work… unless it’s with more glitter haha. But the little cheap guys and the Funkins needed some work, so our paint brushes/spray cans were aimed in their direction.
I wanted the pumpkins to look coordinated but not too matchy matchy. We had a few painting methods in mind: 1) Spruce some up with gold puffy paint, 2) Make some look more realistic using watered down acrylic, and 3) Give some a metallic ombre with gold and copper spray paint.
1. PUFFY PAINT PUMPKINS
Here’s what you’ll need:
- pumpkins (real or faux)
- puffy paint in a contrasting color (I used Tulip brand in gold)
Tiny white pumpkins: you sad little things. I painted you by hand with cheap craft paint for my first Halloween in my first apartment, but time has not done you well. Say high to my friend puffy paint.
Originally I was going to spray paint these gold after adding the puffy paint. But then I started applying it and I loved the contrast between the white and the gold dots.
The paint was suuuuuper easy and quick to apply. I dotted it in lines down the crevices of the pumpkins to emphasize their shape.
It was really forgiving to work with too. At one point we accidentally knocked one over before it was dry and I just wiped off the parts that got messed up. The paint fully sets after four hours.
2. MORE REALISTIC PUMPKINS
Here’s what you’ll need:
- pumpkins (real or faux…. though if you’re trying to make real pumpkins look more realistic, maybe you need to stop and take a good look at your life)
- acrylic paint in black and dark reddish-brown (white/cream too if you go overboard on the black like I did)
- bowl with water (a plastic or styrofoam one you can toss later works well)
- paint brush (I used one medium brush for most of it but did the tiny pumpkins and stems with a small brush. Probably could do it all with one brush though if you don’t want to buy two)
- paper towels
Oh Funkins. Some of you we carved, some of you we didn’t, some of you we half-finished and we just turn you around so nobody sees. You shall meet my friend watered down acrylic paint.
I started by of course finishing carving our Jack Skellington jack-o-lantern that has been half-carved for years. (Tip: use an X-acto knife on Funkins instead of typical carving tool sets. More effective, way better control. Tip 2: X-acto is how you spell it, not Exacto. Just Googled it. Who knew).
I combined black and dark brown paint with water until the mix was liquidy enough to drip down the pumpkin’s sides. I roughly brushed it on, concentrating on where I thought shadows would naturally be: around the stem, down the sides in the crevices, and at the bottom. This is by no means an exact art.
After letting it set like that for 30 seconds or so, I took a dry paper towel and wiped it down. This took off most the paint but left a bit of a shadow behind.
Then it was rinse and repeat. I did this process a couple more times until it had the imperfections and depth I wanted. Interestingly enough, it almost looked like it was made of weathered wood.
Later I took it inside, and in the new lighting realized I made have gone a little overboard with the black. Watered down white+cream acrylic paint to the rescue! I brushed it where I thought light would naturally hit, on the raised parts of the pumpkin down the sides.
I wish I used a little more brown and a little less black so it had a slightly warmer tone, but still overall I like him!
Lastly, I decided to paint the stem too. Because why put in 100% when you can put in 110%?? I used the same colors I already had out – black, brown, and cream. Below is how Jack’s stem was looking before. Then I used my three colors to mix a couple different shades or warmish gray tones and messily hand painted it on, following the same mental guides I used for painting the pumpkin itself: dark where shadows are (recessed areas), light where light hits (raised areas).
Done! I’d say it was worth the extra couple of minutes, especially when you already have the brush and paint out anyway. Even if you didn’t worry about shading and highlighting, and simply colored the parts of the stem that weren’t fully painted (thanks Funkin-factory!), it would make a big difference.
In the end, it looks much more realistic instead of looking like a looming plastic imposter.
After doing this, I actually wished I had added some realistic shading to the two white pumpkins I puffy painted. So…. I went back and did it. You’ve already seen the finished result a few photos up in the “finished puffy paint pumpkins” picture, but here’s how it went.
Paint on, wipe off, repeat until you inevitable go too dark again and need to add some white+cream back in. I did use a slightly smaller brush than before, but really brush size isn’t a huge deal. Overall, pretty much the same process as before.
Of course, I had to paint the stem on this one too. I used the same method and brush as before. Darker paint in recessed areas, lighter paints on raised areas.
After seeing the first one done (on the left below) it made me extra glad I was doing the stems. The unfinished one (below right) just looks sad…)
Done with both!
Lastly, I tested this realism-method with an orange Funkin.
At first I tried using black+brown paint to add shadows, but it was way too graying on the orange. So instead I quickly wiped it off and switched to only dark reddish-brown, and this worked a lot better.
This one ended up being way quicker and easier than the white pumpkins!
Finally, I painted this guy’s stem too. Same paint, same method, and same level of happiness that I went ahead and spent a couple extra minutes to do it. Before and after below:
All of these now look much better and have a lot more added depth. Real pumpkins aren’t flat, so adding a little color variation made a huge difference – especially in person. Also, even though it is several layers of paint, it was pretty hard to mess up!
3. METALLIC OMBRE PUMPKINS
Here’s what you’ll need:
- pumpkins (real or faux)
- metallic gold spray paint (I like Krylon premium gold)
- metallic copper spray paint (I like Krylon premium copper)
Last but not least, I planned on giving a couple pumpkins the metallic ombre treatment. I did one of our large Funkins, and one the last of my tiny cheap painted pumpkins.
Instead of doing a solid metallic, I thought fading from lighter gold on top to darker copper on bottom would give a little more depth and interest. So first I painted gold on the top, making sure to paint a little past the point where I wanted my fade to start, so that I could have some overlap. Well, on the little one I pretty much painted the whole thing since it was so small.
This paint dries really fast so it wasn’t long until I could flip them over and paint the bottoms copper.
To get a nice ombre fade, make sure to spray not too close and always keep your hand moving so that paint doesn’t get too concentrated in one area. Also, if you’re painting something carved like our big guy, make sure the paint hits the cut edge so that it’s not left white. And really that’s it! This was definitely the easiest paint method.
Well there you have it! Three different ways you can spruce up any tired/boring/fake looking pumpkins you have. Now these are officially added to our collection of “keepers”. Can’t wait to decorate our house for Halloween!
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