Pumpkin Painting: Snow White’s Poison Apple Tutorial and Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas

It isn’t even October yet, and Lil’ Man has already put me to work on this year’s Halloween decorations. Yesterday we set about putting together some of our decorations for this year’s chosen theme:  The Nightmare Before Christmas.  We finally had the gorgeous fall weather we’ve been waiting for, so it was the ideal day to head outdoors in search of this year’s perfect pumpkins.

We of course had to get a large orange pumpkin to feature Zero, (the one Lil’ Man chose weighs 31 lbs.), but Lil’ Man also requested a small white pumpkin that could be painted to look like Snow White’s poison apple. Snow White Poison Apple Pumpkin Painting

Our door decor this year is from Disney Family’s DIY:  What’s this? ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Door Decor! 

While Adrian always carves a pumpkin with Lil’ Man just before Halloween, we love our tradition of painting them.  First of all, it’s easier for me than carving and there is less mess to clean up after the project.  Second, painted pumpkins can last for months.  Most years, our painted pumpkins make it past Thanksgiving whereas our carved pumpkin never makes it a week.  (Yes, I’ve tried spraying the inside with bleach, coating it with petroleum jelly, etc.,) We have lost a couple of our painted pumpkins prior to Thanksgiving, but that was due to our sneaky forest friends chewing on the backsides.

Our Pumpkins from Previous Halloweens

General Pumpkin Painting Materials

  • Medium and Small Tipped Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Sponge Paintbrush
  • Sealer (e.g., Mod Podge or Varnish)
  • Permanent Marker

If you plan on painting your own Zero pumpkin, you will need a small red pom pom and a glue gun.

Tips for Painting Your Pumpkin

  • First of all, clear your workspace of any four-legged helpers…they are not helpful…not at all.
  • To prepare your pumpkin for painting, clean the surface with a wet paper towel or, for small pumpkins, wash in the sink with mild dish soap.  Make sure you remove all dirt from the surface to be painted.
  • I like to start by outlining my design on the pumpkin with my marker.  If you are super confident in your artistic skills then you can skip this step.  (I am not super confident in my skills.)
  • Once the marker is dry, you can begin applying your base coats.  Apply your coats as thin as possible to avoid streaks and globs of paint as much as possible.  Allow each coat to fully dry before applying the next.  I usually apply around 3 coats of paint.
  • Add shadows or reflections of light to give the character on your pumpkin a “3D” look.
  • If placing your pumpkin outdoors, be sure to seal the paint with a varnish or a sealant like Mod Podge.  If you do not seal the paint on your pumpkin then the elements will wear away the paint!
  • If this is your first time painting a pumpkin then start with something simple.  I recommend trying something like the Snow White’s Poison apple pumpkin (tutorial below) as it is a simple design and it is not meant to look perfect.

Snow White’s Poison Apple Pumpkin

There are multiple ways you could approach making this little treat of a pumpkin, but I chose to go the simplest route while using the least amount of materials.  We’re moving in less than a year which means that I need to deplete what craft supplies I have, not go out and purchase more.  I used what I had left of some glow in-the-dark paint I had for my MagicBand projects, but you could also use white acrylic paint as well as melted white crayon to drizzle over your pumpkin.  You could also attach a green leaf (made from card stock) to the stem if you so desire.  20180929_232329

Things You’ll Need to Paint Snow White’s Poison Apple

  • Small-Medium White Pumpkin (Choose a round pumpkin with a long stem.)
  • Medium and Small Tipped Paintbrushes
  • Red Acrylic Paint (If you get a pumpkin that is not white, you will also need white paint.)
  • Sponge Paintbrush
  • Sealer (e.g., Mod Podge or Varnish)
  • Permanent Marker
  • Painter’s/Masking Tap
  • Foil
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Acrylic Paint
  • Paper Plate


  1. Thoroughly wash your pumpkin of dirt and debris.  I washed mine in the kitchen sink with mild dish detergent and then patted it dry with a towel.Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 8.38.13 AM
  2. Outline your design with permanent marker.  Since my pumpkin was already white, I only painted the bottom and the eyes and nose of the skull red.  Don’t worry if you mess up as you will be painting over it!  You can also use Isopropyl alcohol and a cotton ball to remove most of the marker.
  3. Apply layers in thin coats and allow to dry completely before adding the next coat.  I used a red gloss paint which easily peels up if not completely dry.  My pumpkin has four layers of red paint. Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 8.38.33 AM
  4. Once the red paint has dried, cut a small piece of foil and tape it over the eyes and nose.  DO NOT PUT THE TAPE ON THE PAINT!  The paint will peel up if you do this. Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 8.39.00 AM
  5. Place your pumpkin on the paper plate and drizzle the glow-in-the-dark paint over the top of the pumpkin.   Be sure to shake your glow-in-the-dark paint well just prior to use.
  6. Let the glow-in-the-dark paint drizzle down your pumpkin.  Before it dries completely, remove the tape and foil.  With your paintbrush, fix any edges the foil created in the glow-in-the-dark paint.  I added a glob of the paint between the eyes.
  7. If you will be placing your pumpkin outside, be sure to add 1-2 layers of sealer to painted areas of the pumpkin to prevent the paint from wearing away in the elements.

Do you paint your pumpkins?  Share your tips and favorite design ideas in the comments below!

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