You've seen their creations in our Inspirational Pro Pumpkin Carving gallery. Now, here are pro tips and secrets for every step of the pumpkin-carving process. And, when you create your masterpiece, make sure you enter the 2011 Pumpkin-Carving Contest for your chance to win the $500 Grand Prize.
MORE: The Ultimate Pumpkin-Carving Tool Kit
1. Select It
Whether you're opting for a gourd straight from the patch, or choosing to carve a synthetic pumpkin, make sure you consider your design or pattern when making a selection. Pick one that's large enough and shaped to accommodate the length and width of whatever design you're going to carve. And before you leave the pumpkin patch, Ryan Wickstrand of Zombie Pumpkins recommends the following: "Make sure it can stand well on its own, and never carry a pumpkin by its stem."
If you dread seeing your hard work turn to mush-even with good care, a carved pumpkin will last about a couple of weeks-consider an artificial pumpkin, a la Funkins.