There is no limit to what you can paint on a cake – landscapes, florals, and even funny little cat illustrations.
Watercoloring on cakes is not as hard as it might sound, the most important things are to use the right tools and make sure your buttercream is as firm as possible at all times – which can mean many trips to the fridge. Just remember to have fun, you can make a perfect detailed painting or have it as abstract and messy as you want. There is no right answer to art, just make it uniquely you and it will stand out and make everyone happy.
You don’t need too many supplies for cake painting, but the ones that you need are pretty specific to get art that doesn’t bleed all over your frosting. You’ll want a paper towel or cloth to wipe your paintbrush on and a plate for your colors and a bowl for your alcohol. Make sure to change your alcohol when it starts getting murky.
– Clear vanilla extract or clear alcohol – Painting with a medium that as alcohol in it will help the paint dry differently and not bleed like water or other liquids. I could not tell you the science behind this at all (let me know if you know!). But it seems to evaporate differently and make your life as a cake artist much easier. I used the clear imitation vanilla extract from Olive Nation, the online store that I also get my favorite vanilla paste and fun gourmet ingredients from. Just make sure your imitation vanilla has an alcohol content. Clear alcohols like vodka also work well.
– Paintbrushes – You can get away with having just one detail brush like the one pictured below, but it is really nice to have a range of brushes for different textures and styles. A set like this is all you really need! Just keep them in the kitchen so they stay food safe.
– Gel food coloring – I have found the texture of gel food coloring works a lot better than powders and liquids. You can slowly build color and it glides easily on to the buttercream. My favorite kind is Americolor and they have an amazing selection of colors.
Make sure your cake and buttercream are chilled between the steps, this will make painting much easier!
– Step 1: Lightest colors and basic shapes. Having a sketch of your cake design will be incredibly helpful as a starting point for your painting. Start with the lightest colors and sketch out all the basic shapes of your design. It is much easier to cover up light mistakes than it is dark ones.
– Step 2: Medium colors and large details – Once you have your basic design sketched out with the lighter colors, start going in with your medium colors and create shadows and larger details. Change your extract/alcohol as needed when it gets too dark and wipe your brush on a towel to clean between colors.
– Step 3: Now it is time for your darkest colors and finer details!