To use a pumpkin-carving stencil, scoop out the seeds, tape the pattern to the pumpkin, and transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. Transfer methods include drawing with marker, poking holes or using a graphite-transfer method.
For beginning carvers, a design with large spaces and few details works best. Lots of little details or small carved areas are difficult to maneuver. The design also needs to fit well onto the pumpkin. Shrink or enlarge the design using a printer if necessary to make it fit better.
Decide on your transfer method before attaching the pattern. If you want to use a marker, cut out the spaces on the pattern that get carved. When the pattern goes on to the pumpkin, use a marker to trace those open spaces onto the pumpkin. If you prefer holes, place the pattern on first. Poke holes through the pattern and into the pumpkin along the lines.
For the graphite method, turn the pattern over and scribble over the back with pencil. Attach the pattern with the pencil side touching the pumpkin. Trace the lines using a pen so the graphite appears on the pumpkin in the pattern shape.
When attaching the pattern, cut slits along the paper pattern to help it fit snugly on the rounded shape of the pumpkin. Secure the pattern well with tape so it doesn't shift as you transfer the pattern. Remove the pattern once you transfer the design so you can carve the pumpkin.