Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Draw Cartoon Characters on Your Cakes

You really don’t need to be a great artist to draw any of your (or your kid’s) favorite cartoon characters on a cake. The only skill you really need is the ability to trace, and we all learned that back in Kindergarten, right? ☺

Character Cakes

What You’ll Need:

• A picture of the character you want on the cake
• Parchment paper
• Piping gel
• Tape
• A cake that you've already iced

1. First, get a picture of your character to trace. Black and white drawings work best. The drawing of Elmo I used for the above cake came from a Google search for an Elmo coloring page. I’ve also traced right out of picture books. One nice advantage of taking your picture from the web is that you can adjust the size to fit your cake.

2. Next, lay a piece of parchment paper over the drawing you want to trace. Tape the parchment paper down so it doesn’t slip on you.

3. Take a small decorating bag (or make one out of some more parchment paper) and fill it with a few tablespoons of piping gel. This is a clear gel that can be found in small tubs in the cake decorating aisle of your craft store. Use the piping gel to trace over the drawing.

4. When you’re done, carefully peel the tape off the parchment paper. Then lift the parchment paper off the drawing. Below is the clear piping gel outline for the Elmo cake.

5. Next, flip the parchment paper over onto your iced cake. Be sure the piping gel side is down. Trace over the wrong side of the outline with your finger as shown below. (Hint: This transfer works best if the icing on your cake has had a chance to dry a bit so that it has a slightly crusty edge. If your icing is too soft, you’ll end up with icing on your parchment paper instead of leaving the piping gel on your cake.)

6. Carefully, peel off the parchment paper. You should now have a clear outline of your character on your cake!

7. Now it’s time to color inside the lines (another skill you learned back in Kindergarten ☺)! Using regular buttercream icing, color your drawing by filling in your outline. I used star tip #16 for his nose (orange icing) and face (red icing). For the whites of his eyes, I used tip #5. Then I filled a bag with black icing. I used tip #3 for the mouth, the pupils, and outlining.

I have a lot of nieces and nephews, so I’ve used this tracing trick on many different characters.


  1. What a great tip! I love how Elmo turned out. I think even I'll be able to pull this trick off the next time my daughter asks for Dora on her birthday cake! ;)

  2. Ginny Marie,

    Glad my directions made sense! I already have a template for Dora, if you'd like it. I can give it to our mutual friend (a.k.a. your neighbor). :)

  3. That sounds great! I'll have to ask my oldest what she'd like on her cake, since she thinks Dora is "babyish"! Do you happen to have an Ariel template?

  4. For Ariel, you might want to try this website (

    Or you can just type "Ariel Coloring Page" into Google, and you'll come up with a bunch more. I recommend going with the simplest drawing you can find.

    Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.

  5. Thanks! I'll be sure to take a picture!

  6. Giving this a try for a birthday party tomorrow. Fingers crossed! Everything else I've tried is a fail so far.

  7. Good luck, Talina! I hope it goes well! Let me know how it turns out. :)

  8. It turned out well! A photo is here:

    Thanks for the good idea!!

  9. Thanks for posting the photo link for your cake! You did an awesome job!

  10. OMG thx i did this for my daughter's party she freaked

  11. Glad it worked for you, Anon! :)

  12. Thanks a lot!!! Its a great tip!!!


  13. Ha, Amy I just signed up my wonderful mother-in-law to your email list. Have a great week at school


  14. Wonderful! Welcome, mother-in-law from WI! :)

  15. Hi there :-) Great cake. Just wondering
    1. How you colored your buttercream for Elmo? gel? paste? liquid? Its actually RED not pink; like the liquid food coloring drops usually make it.
    2. What buttercream did you use? homemade? can? Wilton? does Wilton come in a can?
    3. Can I use store bought icing or will it melt and not hold? I heard I could add confectioners sugar to store bought. Is that true?
    I would like to try this for my sons 2nd bday in 3 days. I hope you still get messages after all these years. Thanks. -Kym

    1. Kym,

      I just found your comment now. LOL!

      I used Wilton "no taste" red gel coloring. It works well and doesn't have the funny aftertaste of their regular red.

      I always make my own icing. My basic recipe can be found here:

      Sorry, I didn't respond in time for your son's birthday!