Cristina Cinquino of Prima Cristina Cakes created this colorful, hand-painted cake tutorial. Perfect for a fun Valentine cake design, or easily adapted for any celebration cake. This easy and versatile technique has endless possibilities.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Scalpel or Craft knife
Large Shaped Cookie Cutters (optional)
Computer or photo inspiration for reference
Gumpaste (Nicholas Lodge Recipe or Satin Ice)
2 Large Paint Stirrers (optional)
Small Bowl of Water
Squirt bottle (optional)
Small thin paintbrushes
Gel Colors (black, red, lemon yellow, leaf green, orange, royal blue, pink, violet, copper, sage, navy)
Fondant Covered cake – two tiers (cake pictured: bottom is 7×5, top is 6×9)
Sketch an outline of the desired design onto card-stock using a freehand design or trace objects as desired. The work of Artist Romero Britto was used as inspiration for this piece. It is helpful to have pictures of the artist’s work to use as a reference while sketching.
2. Cut out a card-stock sketch to create a template; be sure to cut away negative space within the design template.
3. Roll gum paste to 1/8 inch thickness. (Note – using two wooden paint stirrers, one on each side, acts as a guide to keep gum paste level throughout)
4. Lay design template onto gum paste and use a scalpel (or craft knife) to cut design from gum paste. Hold the template so that it does not move while cutting.
5. Leave gum paste cutout to dry on a flat surface overnight or until firm. Keep some scrap pieces to dry as well for color testing while painting later.
6. Using a pencil, sketch sections onto the dried gum paste cutout and draw various geometric designs in each segment. Vary patterns across the design. (Note – you can use a pencil eraser to lightly remove any lines drawn in error; however, it is OK to leave pencil lines visible as a guide for painting)
7.Using a toothpick, mix gel color and vodka. Wilton No-Taste Red, Orange, Lemon Yellow, Violet, Pink, Royal Blue, Moss Green, Leaf Green, Copper, Brown and Black were used here. (Egg trays come in handy for mixing colors so that colors can be combined easily) Use leftover pieces of dried gum paste to test colors before painting the design. Colors should be diluted with vodka enough so that they spread easily to give a watercolor effect but concentrated enough to remain bold.
8. Using a thin paintbrush, begin painting in the design making sure to balance the color throughout. In this motif warm or cool tones pair well within segments but also complementary colors are good pairs. Be sure to vary the colors across the design so that the same colors are not in adjoining segments. Try to keep colors from running together; however, it is not necessary to keep shapes exact as the effect should look freehand and organic.
9. Keep a small bowl of water for frequently cleaning paintbrush and a paper towel to blot the brush. This way the same brush can be used throughout.
10. Outline the entire design and each segment using black gel color mixed with vodka (this mixture should be kept thicker, more opaque, than the bright paint colors) and a very fine paintbrush. An edible marker will also work well. Make the lines thick so that they stand out. Some of the geometric shapes may be outlines as well. While lines should be straight, they do not need to be exact. Simply trace the pencil guideline free handed.
12. Painted gum paste cutouts should be firm to stand on own and paint should be fully dry before applying to cake. Shortening can be used to adhere the 2D cutouts to the fondant covered cake.
The finished design!
About the Author:
Cristina Cinquino, PrimaCristina Cakes
I’m a home-baker that has been caking just over a year and a half. I started, as many cakers do, making cakes for my children’s birthdays. Soon friends started requesting cakes and, as my family could not eat any more cake, I was happy to oblige. After leaving my career in event planning to be a stay at home mom, I welcomed this creative outlet and also the structure of planning and executing complex cake designs. Caking has been the calm in the storm of raising three small children. As I continue to grow as a designer, I find I enjoy experimenting with new techniques and coming up with unique cake ideas inspired by art, architecture, fashion, and historical periods.