As many of you crafty people know, you can find inspiration anywhere, but the internet is a pretty awesome go-to source. I’ll admit, I probably spend just a little too much time surfing sites like pinterest, and working my way into the farthest corners of the internet in search of awesomeness. I don’t even remember what I was originally looking for when I stumbled across Bumpkin, but seriously who really cares? Have you SEEN these designs?! My heart melted as soon as I saw the darling bunnies and bears, and I’m pretty sure my first thought was something along the lines of “THIS needs to be a cookie!” You know, because that’s how my mind works. Catherine, the illustrator behind Bumpkin, was kind enough to let me reproduce some of her images, and in addition to just wanting to share their general cuteness with all of you, I also wanted to talk about painting on fondant. Why painting on fondant, you ask? Because although painted royal icing cookies looks great (painted fondant looks good too), it can be really tricky, and if your just beginning to paint cookies, doing it on fondant can remove some of those curve balls royal icing will throw at you. So how do you paint on fondant? I’m so glad you asked!
Painting on Fondant
What you’ll need:
Fondant (need a recipe?)
Clean, food-only brushes
An assortment of food gel coloring
Something to put your colors on (a dish works)
Paper towels (for wiping your brushes between colors)
Royal icing (for attaching your fondant to the cookies)
One of the good things about decorating your cookies (or any baked goodies for that matter) with fondant is that you can make the toppers well in advance of when you’ll need them. To start, you’ll need some fondant. You can use store bought or make your own, either works well for this project. You’ll also need some food coloring and some clean, food-only brushes. I would recommend using whatever brushes you feel comfortable with, but if you’re looking for a place to start, I like to use a #4 chisel brush for larger areas and a #0 brush for my outlines and smaller areas.
I’ve never been one to free hand designs without some sort of reference. Sometimes I draw the reference myself, and other times I draw inspiration from the things I find online, like today’s design. Once you know what you want to “paint,” you can cut your pieces of fondant to fit the cookies you’ll be making (or have made).
The “painting” process is really pretty straight forward, but it is different than the process you might use if you were painting on canvas or paper. Unfortunately, penciling your design is kind of out of the question here. So how do you make that rough sketch that will disappear when painted over, but that you can erase and tweak? Beige food coloring. You can really use any light food gel coloring, but I like beige with a little bit of water best. It’s dark enough to see against the white, but blends out well. And mistakes erase away easily with a slightly damp q-tip (just rub until it’s gone, and pick up any excess water with the dry end of the q-tip). Using a very fine brush, paint your outline onto the fondant.
Once your outline is in place (and you’re happy with it), you can start filling the design in with color. Again, any mistakes can be wiped away with a damp q-tip.
With everything filled in, it’s time to move on to your final outline. You don’t have to outline your design, but outlining with black really makes the image sharp and stand out. If you’re worried about the black being too much for the design, you can dilute the black food coloring with water, giving you more of a gray color.
Now, we start adding the magic! I always feel like my designs should look better at this stage, but without any shading or contouring, they’re just kind of flat. To really bring your designs to life, they need shading, blending, contouring, and the like. For this step, I like to either use really diluted black food coloring (to the point that it’s a very light gray) or, if I’m working next to my outline, just a little bit of water on my brush to pull and blend that black outline. My decorating philosophy: give it details until it looks right/good!
Once your designs are done, set them aside to dry, at least overnight. Fondant is slower to dry than royal icing, so don’t be surprised when it takes longer. The design is also more likely to end up slightly sticky, which you can fix by lightly brushing it with some powdered sugar.
When you’re ready to attach the fondant cutouts to your cookies (I used chocolate cutouts for this project), just use a little royal icing as glue on the back of your fondant and press it onto your cookie. Don’t be afraid to move that fondant around to make sure the icing is well distributed. Let the icing dry completely (about 4-5 hours) before packaging.