Tutorial: Painting with Buttercream

Tutorial: Painting with Buttercream

Our September issue features an incredible buttercream tutorial by famed Vietnamese artist Ngoc Tran Lam. You can learn to pipe a stunning glossy-buttercream cascade with a 4-page detailed step-by-step tutorial. As a teaser for this incredible feature, we share Tran’s beautiful painting techniques to get you started!


Filled, frosted 6″ and 8″ cakes (extended tiers) 

Italian meringue buttercream 

Wilton colors: moss green, red, burnt orange, lemon yellow, brown, burgundy, and violet 

Painter’s palette 

Soft-tipped sugar shapers or silicone brush 

Palette knife 

Painting the Face 

To Prepare: Fill, frost, and stack the cakes as shown. Chill the cake thoroughly, to provide a smooth, firm surface ready for decorating. Assemble the colors you’d like to use to paint the face onto a painter’s palette, or a clean plate.  

Step 1: It’s helpful to source an inspiration picture before planning the layout of the cake and flowers. This will make the assembly easier later on.  

Tran notes: I was inspired by a picture of a lady with cascading floral hair. 

Step 2: Transfer the inspiration to your cake by sketching the design. Try to plan out as many of the components as possible. This will help you to scale the design appropriately. 

Step 3: Apply a thin and even layer of white buttercream to the surface area of the cake that you wish to paint. This will help the colors to pop and provide a base skin-tone for the figurine. Using a soft-tipped sugar shape, carefully draw in a basic shape for the face by scribing into the buttercream.  

Tran notes: I applied the buttercream paint with a palette knife and smoothed. 

Step 4: Referencing the inspiration photo, add a small amount of colored buttercream using the palette knife and blend to smooth. Use lighter colors for the facial highlights (the brow bone, cheeks, center of the nose, and chin), and darker colors to carve out the shadows. This will give the face dimension. 

To access the rest of Tran’s fabulous tutorial, pick up a copy of our September L’Amour Fashion Issue!! Out Now!


Ngoc Tran Lam

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