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Painting Techniques for Cake Designing

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Painting Techniques for Cake Designing
Used with Permission from Michelle Anderson

The huge range of quality food colorings available is very impressive and almost every possible hue can be made for all your design needs. Most people use food colorings to tint icing but there are so many more uses for this product. By combining color that is alcohol based and the right tool you can make gorgeous patterns and effects on your cake decorating projects. Water based colors can cause fondant to melt when it is brushed on whereas alcohol will evaporate off leaving the color intact. Any tool you can use for paint effects on walls or crafts can also be utilized for cake decorating as long as the tool is made from non-toxic materials. For example, you could use foam or standard brushes, striping or patterning brushes, texturizing sponges, stippling tools and graining combs

Some of the pretty painting effects you can duplicate are:

  • Sponging: Sea spongesand foam sponges are perfect to use on cakes and fondant. You can lightly sponge color onto the finished cake or onto rolled out fondant you are cutting into design pieces. If you apply the color heavily in stages using different hues of the same color family then the finished effect looks very similar to crushed velvet.
  • Dragging: Dragging brushes create a linen or woven effect on your cake. You simply coat the entire surface with the desired color and then use the brush to remove stripes of the color by dragging it over the surface. You can drag in right angles to create a fabric look on the cake surface. Make sure the color is still wet and you only apply the brush lightly or the color will not come off and the fondant will rip or distort.
  • Striping: This effect is similar to dragging except the striping brush creates wider areas without color or stripes. Checked patterns and waves can also be easily made with a little experimentation.
  • Bagging and rag rolling: This technique puts color onto your fondant or gum paste by using wadded up material, paper or plastic dipped in your desired shade. Gently press the rag onto a test area to remove some of the color and try the pattern. Experiment of the pressure to see the extent of the color transfer. You can also use more than one hue for different looks. If you brush color on the entire surface you can also use a clean wadded up rag to remove the color too. Press the rag onto the wet gel color and create patterns like clouds.
  • Motting: This is another subtractive painting effect which removes color from the surface to create texture and design. Simply brush a dry stiff paintbrush over the applied color in random places kind of similar to feathering.
  • Stamping: You can use premade stamps or make your own using sponge to create repeating effects on the surface of the cake. Simple squares, circles, scrolls and other elements can be stamped easily. Take the stamp and dip it into the desired color, press it onto a clean rag to remove the excess and stamp the design onto the fondant or gum paste.
  • Pictures: Anyone with a talent for painting on paper or canvas can utilize this skill directly on a cake. Cake painting produces spectacular effects ranging from stunning china and fabric designs to the look of stained glass. The process of cake painting starts with deciding on your pattern or picture. Choose the colors needed and always practice your brush skills on a piece of rolled fondant. You will soon learn how to load the brush, what the actual color looks like on the white background and the type of pressure needed to produce your design. The possibilities are endless.
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