Whether it is decoration of a flat surface or applying colour to elaborate three dimensional sugar craft, the airbrush represents a wonderful solution to colourful creativity.
Cakes with an Ombré fade never go out of fashion and are perfect for so many different occasions and styles of cakes. Ombré fades can be easily achieved with the airbrush with minimal effort and is something you should definitely try if you have one. With the addition of dragonflies, butterflies and flowers this simple design can make any wedding or celebration cake stand out from the crowd.
Lisa Munro also teaches courses for Airbrushing Cakes and Sugarcrafts. This hands-on workshop will cover as many basic techniques and airbrush effects as possible in one day. You will discover the airbrush as a versatile addition to your other sugarcraft techniques.
Cover each tier and the cake drum with white sugarpaste and leave to dry overnight before dowelling and stacking the cakes together. Smooth over the joins connecting each tier and the drum with royal icing.
| Step 1. Airbrushing the cake:
Mix Blue and Violet (50:50) with a few drops of White into a bottle to make a cornflower blue. Starting at the bottom of the cake, airbrush a light layer just above the base of the top tier.
Tip: Avoid getting any paint on the top half of the top tier as this should remain white.
| Step 2. Build up the colour heavier at the bottom so the colour fades lighter as you get towards the top of the cake. This means spraying fewer layers on top of another as you work your way up the cake.
Tip: Leave the cake to completely dry before moving onto the next step/applying the sticky masks.
| Step 3. Place a sheet of Ultra Mask over the bluebell templates provided. Using a sharp craft knife cut around the outlines. You should be able to use each mask at least 4 times.
| Step 4. Apply the sticky masks around the base of the bottom tier, spaced about 3 inches apart. I have alternated one large then one small template for a better effect.
Tip: Airbrush in light layers inside the mask to avoid getting a heavy build-up of paint on the mask so you can reuse the mask over and over again.
| Step 5. Mix blue and violet (50:50) into another bottle, to make a deep blue and airbrush inside the masks. You will need to position the airbrush close to the cake surface to avoid getting overspray.
Tip: If you’re not confident with your airbrushing then you may want to protect the cake from overspray using sheets of paper around the cut masks.
| Step 6. Place a sheet of Ultra Mask over the grass template provided. Using a sharp craft knife cut around the outline. You’ll need to cut this out a few times.
| Step 7. Using the same blue and violet (50:50) mix, airbrush inside the template. Repeat this all the way around the cake, overlapping the mask each time so there is no visible gap. |
| Step 8. Attach ribbon around the cake board and the base of each tier. I have chosen 4 different shades of blue also fading from dark blue at the bottom to light blue at the top.
| Step 9. Making the dragonflies and butterflies:
Mix white sugarpaste with white flower paste (50:50), work until soft and pliable. Dust the dragonfly and butterfly moulds with cornflour and press the paste into the mould. Carefully press out the dragonfly/butterfly.
| Step 10. Roll out the white sugar flower paste (this needs to be very thin, about 1/2 mm). Place the butterfly cutters onto the paste and press firmly. Remove the cutter and surplus paste. |
| Step 11. Place the dragonflies and butterflies onto a piece of folded card to set. You will need approximately 50 butterflies and dragonflies varying in size to complete this design.|
| Step 12. Making the large rose for the top of the cake:
Cut a 20 gauge wire in 3 pieces (only one piece is needed) and make a hook at one end. Roll a piece of white flower paste into a cone shape and insert the hooked end of the wire into the cone. Leave to dry for a day.
| Step 13. Roll out a small amount of flower paste very thinly. Working with just one petal at a time, cut out using the small rose petal cutter. Soften the edges using a ball tool on a foam pad. |
| Step 14. Add a dab of edible glue to the petal. Position the cone on top of the petal and tightly wrap it around to form a point for the inside of the rose. Repeat this with a second petal wrapping it tightly around the first petal on the opposite side.
Tip: Make sure that all of the petals are level at the top and that you can’t see the top of the cone protruding above the petals.
| Step 15. Now repeat the process of cutting out a petal and shaping with the ball tool on the foam pad. Add a small dab of edible glue in a V shape at the base of the petal before sticking into place. |
| Step 16. Repeat again, adding another petal, opposite to the last one you attached. Encourage the edge of the petal to curl outwards.|
| Step 17. Add another 6 petals overlapping them as they go around the rose. Remember to encourage the petals to curl outwards otherwise the rose will appear too tight.
Tip: On some of the petals, turn in one of the sides using a toothpick to give them a curl before attaching them.
| Step 18. Repeat the process of cutting out a petal, shaping with a ball tool and then wrapping another 6 petals overlapping them as they go around the rose - but this time using the medium rose petal cutter. |
| Step 19. Repeat again wrapping another 6 petals overlapping them as they go around the rose but this time using the large rose cutter. My rose measures 4 ½ inches in diameter. Hang upside down to set.|
| Step 20. Insert a posy pick into the centre of the top of your cake. Trim the wire of the rose and place into the posy pick.|
| Step 21. Airbrushing the dragonflies and butterflies:
Starting with the dragonflies, add a few drops of Metallic Silver to the airbrush and spray over the entire dragonfly – not forgetting the underneath. Spray through some airbrush cleaner after.
| Step 22. Add blue to the airbrush, position very close to the dragonfly and spray over the centre body, moving out slightly onto the wings – leave the tips of the wings silver. Spray some dragonflies lighter and some darker.
Tip: The dragonflies and butterflies should vary in shade from light to dark so when positioned on the cake they match the Ombré fade e.g. darker blue dragonflies/butterflies at the bottom of the cake, fading to lighter blue dragonflies/butterflies at the top.
| Step 23. Change colours to blue/violet (mixed 50:50) and spray over just the body to deepen the colour, leaving some of the lighter blue showing and the tips of the wings in silver.
| Step 24. On the darkest dragonflies only (the ones that will be placed towards the bottom of the cake), touch in with Black just over the body to give a more realistic effect.|
| Step 25. Repeat the last 2 steps for the butterflies (leaving out the first step of spraying them silver. Only the dragonflies need a metallic sparkle). Again, spray some lighter and some darker.
| Step 26. Attach the dragonflies and butterflies covering one side of the cake with edible glue. Stick the darker dragonflies/butterflies towards the bottom of the cake fading to lighter blue dragonflies/butterflies at the top.
Tip: I found it’s best to apply the glue to the butterflies/dragonflies and leave for 5 minutes before attaching to the cake. You will need to hold each in place for a few seconds so it adheres to the cake.
| Step 27. Finish by adding one tiny light blue butterfly on top of the rose as if it’s landed there.|
|Download the Template PDF below:|
Lisa’s Handy Tips:
Practice first: Always practice using the airbrush on a piece of paper or kitchen roll first, cartridge paper has a similar absorbency to icing so this is a good substrate to experiment with.
Mixing colours: You can mix colours straight into the bowl of the airbrush but it is a good idea to mix them into a dropper bottle if you want to use the exact same colour again. A colour wheel will also help when mixing colours.
Turn as you spray: Place the cake on a turntable; this will help you to spray colours evenly whilst turning the cake at the same time.
Cleaning between colour changes: It is not always necessary to clean out the airbrush between changing colours, simply flush through the excess colour and add in the next. However, stronger colours like black and blue do require cleaning out with clean water or airbrush cleaner first in order to remove any stubborn paint that’s in the bowl or around the nozzle and needle.
Cleaning your airbrush: Cleaning your airbrush after every use is vital to its performance and longevity. Spray airbrush cleaner through the airbrush until the cleaning agent sprays clear. For more stubborn paint, use new cleaning fluid and a clean flat bristle paintbrush, gently wipe around the inside of the bowl and across the tip of the airbrush to remove any build up of dried paint. Remove the needle from the back of the airbrush and wipe off any paint before replacing.
Masking Techniques: When masking off areas, make sure that you cover any area where you don’t want paint to land – scraps of paper work perfectly for this. Make sure there are no gaps and that the mask is securely fixed down to avoid any paint creeping underneath (known as under-spray).