If you've ever been intimated with how to paint on a buttercream cake, don't be! Trust me when I say that it's fun and easy! In my short video tutorial below, along with a few tips and suggestions, you'll be on your way to painting your first cake! The most important thing with all of this is to have fun!
painting a buttercream cake - items you'll need to start
Paint trays come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be found in just about any craft store like Michaels, A.C. Moore, or Hobby Lobby. You can also purchase them online.
I prefer the smaller-sized paint trays like the style shown below, but buy the one that works best for you and your cake painting projects.
synthetic paint brushes
You'll want to use synthetic, sterile brushes for applying your gel colors to the buttercream frosting. Wilton sells this 5-pack decorating brush set, but you can typically find other companies that sell something similar. I have these as well as some other generic brushes.
icing gel colors
When it comes to coloring buttercream frosting, I typically use Wilton's brand. A little bit of their gel coloring goes a long way and the colors are fabulous. They also have the Color Right system that can match the color you previously used based on the number of drops.
You also have the Chefmaster food coloring brand and McCormick as well.
For this particular tutorial, I used the following colors (brand in parentheses)
- Buttercup Yellow (Wilton)
- Cornflower Blue (Wilton)
- Juniper Green (Wilton)
- Kelly Green (Wilton)
- Violet (Wilton)
- Bakers Rose (Chefmaster)
vodka, grain alcohol, or clear vanilla extract
If you want, you can paint with using just the gel color itself which will give you a much more concentrated, bolder color.
To thin it out though, and to achieve a watercolor effect, you'll want to add a few drops of either vodka (the cheapest you can find), Everclear Grain Alcohol (look for the 151% proof - not the 190% proof which is obtainable by permit only in the state of PA and banned in most other states), or a clear extract (vanilla- or a lemon-flavor will work) to the gel color.
My preference is the Everclear Grain Alcohol which I can get for roughly $19 (750 ML bottle).
buttercream painting tips and suggestions
remember the colors you're using
I like to place the gel color bottle I'm using behind each paint well so I can remember what color it is I'm using.
You can also take a sheet of paper, draw circles to match the paint tray wells, place a dab of each color inside the circle, and then write the name next to it.
clean your paint brushes
Rinse out your paint brush in water before changing paint colors and clean your brushes thoroughly after you're done using them. Allow to air dry standing up in a dish caddy.
If you like to doodle in sketch books like I do, look back at some of your drawings and see if anything creates that spark.
My very first painted buttercream cake that had flowers on it was inspired by one of my favorite companies ever—the Rifle Paper Co!
The sky is the limit with what you want to paint! As I've said before, just remember to have fun!
I like to keep the house at a much cooler temp so the buttercream doesn't begin to sweat. The cats don't seem to mind it (they have fur coats on) and I just put on a light sweater, if need be. My husband hates the cold though, so I make sure to try and do it when he's not home
If you find your buttercream is softening up while you paint, place it in the fridge for about an hour (or however long it takes for the frosting to feel firm again). An hour seems to be the sweet spot for me.
Don't just stop with painting the cake. If the mood strikes you to add sprinkles or gold accents (like Truly Mad Plastics, super gold powder), go for it!
be social and share your painted cake creations!
Take pictures of your painted buttercream cake masterpiece and post it to social media! And don't forget to tag me in the photo with #beyondthebutter and @beyond.thebutter (Instagram), @beyondthebutter (Facebook and Twitter), so I can feature your beautiful work!