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Cake Types for Airbrushing

Cake airbrushing is a lot of fun. You see an image in your head, you gather together your airbrushing equipment, and you make your image become a reality. There is nothing like seeing your blank canvas come to life.

However, you must first have the right cake airbrushing equipment in order to tackle your project successfully. This means having an airbrush gun, a compressor, and all the other bits and pieces required for cake decorating.

But obviously, before anything else, you must bake your cake. Determine what style of cake you wish to create and get a vision of how you’re going to incorporate your airbrush design. Here are some of the common decorating styles that you can choose from:

  • European is the most famous cake decorating style. The cake is covered with a smooth icing that is rather hard to the touch. The cake is covered with borders, flowers, and other decorating items.
  • Victorian is a more traditional style. It tends to be used in European wedding ceremonies. This is a ladder style cake with pillars of flowers.
  • The lambath style consists of layers of icing. The layers give the cake a dimensional look.
  • The Australian style is similar to lambath but is covered with fondants.
  • The Wilton style uses butter cream icing and flowers border the cake.

You can apply an airbrushed design to any one of these cakes. You can create a totally unique design with your airbrushing – something no one has ever seen before. Just be sure to sketch your design first so that you don’t find yourself making corrections or having to start all over.

Airbrushing is a skill that takes a bit of practice. You will find quite a few sources online that will guide you through the early stages. There are also links to some learning resources on this website. Another option is to take an airbrush cake decorating class in your local area – many baking schools now provide these classes – or take a look online for books, videos and DVDs on the subject.

Cake airbrushing is a very satisfying skill to learn which will bring you much enjoyment and satisfaction. With some experience and time, it could also be turned into an extra work-at-home income or even a new career.

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Cake Airbrush Kit

A cake airbrush kit is a collection of all the equipment required for the process of decorating a cake by airbrushing. If you are just starting out, purchasing a kit is sometimes a good idea.

Whether or not you buy a pre-made kit or collect all the equipment yourself is the subject of this article.

We will first describe exactly what airbrush equipment you will require to get started with cake airbrushing.

1. An Airbrush: This can be a simple single-action gun or a double-action gun for more control.

2. A Compressor: Bottled compressed gas also works, but a compressor is best.

3. A Basic Range of Edible Coloring: You can do a lot by mixing the 3 primary colors (red, yellow and blue) but most starter kits come with about 1 dozen colors to get you going.

These are the 3 essentials. With these items – and a cake as your canvas – you can dig right in and start decorating.

Other useful equipment which will come in handy are:

1. Stencils and masks for controlling the edges and overspray.

2. A larger color range of food paints, and also some special effects colors, like pearl or neon.

3. Extra airbrushes and/or color cups for quick and easy color changes.

These optional items can be picked up along the way, as you require them.

So there you have it. You can purchase a complete kit which will include all the necessary equipment required to tackle your airbrushed cake decorating project .. or you can obtain the items individually yourself.

Buying a kit from one single source is convenient and often includes a useful tutorial booklet or DVD to help newcomers get up and running quickly.

Sourcing pre-used components yourself can result in better quality gear at keener prices if you buy right. If purchasing the equipment from individuals you can often get extras thrown in as part of the deal. (It’s always worth asking.)

Below you will find airbrush kits and equipment specifically for cake decorating. For more information on any item of interest, just click the links:

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Tips and Techniques on How To Airbrush a Cake

First things first, it probably should go without saying, you definitely need to use a food-safe color. If you have an airbrush machine and you’ve used it for other kinds of crafting before, and have put paint in it that wouldn’t be safe to eat, it’s really best that you not use that machine for cakes. Get a separate machine for cakes so that there’s not a contamination issue.

Alright. Read the manual for your specific machine because they’re all a little bit different. And follow your manufacturer’s instructions for use and care. It’s very important to keep your machine clean – and keep the needle clean – because if it gets clogged it’s going to cause splatters on the top of your cake.

Cover all of your surfaces. The color will travel, so you need to protect your home. You can put down butcher paper, like I have, disposable plastic table cloths work great, even yesterday’s newspaper is fine – just something to protect the surface underneath and behind the cake.

Now, just like piping – using a piping bag, pressure, angle and speed are very important when airbrushing a cake. The more that you practice with the airbrush the more comfortable you will be. So, practice, practice, practice. Practice on butcher paper or paper towels. You can get children’s coloring books and try staying within the lines .. or not staying within the lines .. whatever you are going for, and make sure you are really comfortable before you move to a cake.

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Airbrush Cake Decorating – Lesson 1

There are many aspects to cake decorating. Of them all, airbrushing is by far my favorite – and by the end of the video, you’ll see why. Okay, well I’m hungry .. let’s get started.

Necessary Tools:
Before Jerry gets started today I’d like to take you through some of the basic equipment that we’ll be using. And I’m going to start with the airbrush – it is a single action, gravity fed airbrush. You put your color in here. The air flows consistently through the airbrush – you don’t have to worry about air at all – and you just pull back on the trigger to release your color. Then you can set it down in this handy-dandy airbrush holder. It cradles the airbrush so it cannot fall and hit the ground and get damaged – and it also prevents you from spilling color. Also, we have a clear hose that you can see is attached to the compressor here, and basically that just lets you see if you have any water trapped in the line or any impurities.

The large compressor runs 20 to 30 psi and it’s good for the large bakery that will be doing everything from sheet cakes to small pastries. The small compressor is the 80-3. It runs at about 10 pounds of pressure – ideal for cupcakes, pastries and smaller cake projects.

There are a variety of stencils available on different themes; graduation events, sporting events and such .. and you may want to check with your preferred distributor to see what they have in stock.

Next we have out airbrush-ready colors. Again, I must stress “airbrush ready” .. and you’ll want to check with your preferred distributor to find the colors that suit your creative needs.

Finally, we have our Over-spray Cleaning Chamber which can be used to expel excess color from your airbrush.

And that’s it. Now I’m going to hand you over to Jerry who’s going to teach you some basic skills.

Basic Skills: Spraying Dots & Lines:
Now I’m going to get into practicing the techniques. What I’m going to do is show you how to work on dots and lines today. The dots and lines are something we need to practice so we can get the feel for the airbrush, the trigger, and how the food color is dispersed from the cup.

Starting with the dots .. what you want to do is aim the airbrush straight down – don’t aim it on the side or you are going to get overspray. Aim straight down and move right along – making dots that are all the same size. Now what you want to do is pull the airbrush away from the surface – about a couple of inches – and try to make dots that are the same size also – but what you notice is that they are bigger because the airbrush is further from the surface. Anytime you pull the airbrush away from the surface it widens the spray. You’ll notice when I pull it way back you get a big wide dot.

Now, the same goes with the lines. Once you’ve done the dots enough where you feel you are comfortable with the consistency, try the lines. See how I am keeping the airbrush close to the surface. You can get it very close and get a very fine line. With a cake it won’t work as well, however. I’m working on cardboard again – but on a cake if you get it that close, there’s a chance you might blow the icing out. Keeping back at a safe distance like this you can get a pretty fine line which is enough for cake decorating. Again, having this airbrush way back you get a big wide line, and you’ll notice how it fades out – it’s not as dark or bold as the closer lines were.

Practice these things and you’ll be on your way. Next I’m going to teach you how you can use these dots and lines to spray borders on cakes.

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Airbrush Cake Decorating – Lesson 2

(Continued from part 1)
It’s always nice to tie in a couple of different colors too – you don’t have to use the same colors for all your borders. A color that looks nice with purple is pink. So, I’ll use pink – and I can do a number of things – I can do another line so I have a border that has 2 lines. You can spray it two-tone so you see the pink and lavender together – if you hold the gun back far enough you can’t see where one color ends and the other begins. That’s just a way of tinting two colors together. You have to be careful which colors you use together .. some colors don’t blend, such as green and pink, orange and blue, because they are on opposite sides of the color wheel. It’s always good to refer to a color wheel if you’re not sure what colors can be used together.


Now I’m going to try a different border on another edge of this board. I’ll do an orange scallop border. I’m starting out with a fine line like that. Always run water through to make sure you get the old color out if you are going to another color that isn’t going to blend very well. In this case I’ll add pink. Okay, now I’ll try something with dots on this border. I’ll use blue because it’ll show up well next to the orange. I’m not going to overlap the orange and the blue intentionally. You’ll see how the orange and the blue don’t go together – they look muddy. However, next to each other the colors compliment each other quite well. I’m using the dot technique that I showed you earlier and it gives you a nice even dot pattern. Almost starting to look like an easter egg.

Okay, we’ll do a little something different on this edge. Oops – always make sure your color caps are tight! Otherwise that’ll happen, and you don’t want that happening on a cake. I’m going to spray a fine line of one shade of green then we’ll use a different shade of green. This one will be forest green. Again, I’m going from a dark color to a lighter color. I definitely need to clean the airbrush out now because that forest green will be the dominating color in there, and if I don’t get that out of there we’re going to have a color that’s not complimentary. Okay, I’m going to use a little yellow and I’m going to spray the background real light. I’ll do it holding the airbrush back at a distance. Next, I’m going to pink, and this’ll be the edge of the cake, you’ll see where the pink and the yellow blend together – but again, you can’t see where the pink ends and the yellow begins. By holding the airbrush back far enough the colors just blend together – versus using the 2 shades of green, by keeping them close, the colors stayed separate.

I’ll try one last thing on this side of the board. Because I have black and I want to make it a very bold distinct color I’m going over it again. And what I’m going to do with that is just make a bright festive polka dot border on the inside of the black. There are no rules here – I’m just going to pick whatever colors I feel like going with. Of course, if you are doing a cake, you may be trying to apply whatever colors the customer has requested. I’m going to keep the airbrush back further, versus keeping it close as I did on here. No need to count the dots, just do it with enough different colors until the space is filled up .. or as filled in as you wish it to be – after all, you’re the artist. I think there’s room for one last color and I’ll make it purple.

So this gives us some different ideas, some different techniques and methods that can be used in a nice variety of borders. These skills also apply to airbrushing in general even when you are doing a stencil or freehand – all of these skills end up being utilized in just about anything you do in airbrushing.

Next, I’m going to take a new board and we are going to do a stencil – and a whole border to go with the stencil – something that’ll match the whole cake design.

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Airbrushes for Cakes

On reality shows like “Ace of Cakes” currently airing on the Food Network, viewers get to see just how difficult making and decorating a cake can be. No, we’re not talking about writing “Happy Birthday” on a store bought cake. We’re talking genuine artistry here.

And like all artists, a professional cake decorator needs the right tools. Yes, we know it sounds a little strange, but it is much easier if you see the cake as the canvas and the other equipment as tools of the trade. Remember, just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it can’t be a work of art. In fact, the average professionally decorated wedding cake can be every bit as expensive as a painting on canvas.

Where to begin? After the cake has been baked and cooled off, the artist must procure a few basic pieces of equipment. The first and most important is the airbrush system; the airbrush gun, compressor and paints. Just remember to purchase edible paints for cake decorating!.

The airbrush gun is just like any other piece of art equipment—it takes practice to perfect. And the best place to practice is on an ordinary sheet of paper before you begin. It’s a good idea to plan the job beforehand, sketch everything out, decide on the colors and create any masks that will be needed. Good luck, and have fun!

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Airbrush Cake Decorating – Lesson 3. Stencils, Freehand Lettering and Decorating

You’ve seen a little something about borders, now I’m going to take it a step further. We’re going to do a design – a graduation design. Graduation cakes are very popular – so I’m going to use this silhouette stencil and I’m going to lay it down on the cake, like so – again, making sure that the icing is set up and has a little bit of a crust so that the stencil doesn’t stick to the icing.

The graduate is going to be in black and I’m going to choose red and blue for school colors, because those are pretty popular colors. Starting with the black, we’ll do the silhouette first and move on to the border colors. As long as the stencil is flat on the cake there is no need for you to really hold it down – just try to keep the airbrush spraying straight down so it doesn’t blow the stencil off the cake. If you get air underneath there it flutters like that so just keep the airbrush aiming down at it. Maybe you might want to use your fingertips just a little to keep the edge down if necessary. I’m just keeping the airbrush a slight distance away from the stencil – get too close and it makes it flutter. If you hold it too far away you might get overspray and then you’ll see black on the edge – outside of the stencil which you don’t want. If that ends up being a major concern – one thing I’ve done in the past – is just held a piece of paper or cardboard, just as a mask so that any overspray from inside the stencil will just go on the paper rather than the icing.

So, I’m going to hold that up to the stencil as I pull my airbrush back a little farther now to darken the center of the silhouette. This is a lot quicker than taking a drawing or a picture of a graduate – whether it be freehand or with a projection machine. When it’s time to remove the stencil just get your finger underneath and pull it off. You get a nice clean edge.

I’m going to get rid of the black an go to red. I’m going to start with a wide spray in the background – keeping it far away from the surface. I’m also keeping it a little more subtle, a little more pale. Now I’m going very close to the cake with a fine line. I’m not happy with how straight the line is – it’s a little crooked – so what I’m going to do is go over it again and move the airbrush back a little to compensate. That’ll hide the goof up a little bit. I want that line to be nice and straight. I’ll do the same up here – holding my right hand steady with my left hand helps me make a straighter line.

Okay, it’s time to tie in some blue. I’m going to make another parallel line – not getting it too close to the red. I don’t want to let the red and blue overlap where you’d get a little dirtier color. Red and blue together make burgundy, and we don’t want that.

Now we can do script with this airbrush because we can get it nice and close. If you want to write with your airbrush on the cake and get a real fine line, you should probably turn your air pressure down to about 10 lbs. 20 lbs might blow a hole in your icing. If you get your airbrush this close, like I have it here, that pressure would probably blast a hole in through the icing so you are best off turning the pressure down if you intend to get that close. There are different things you can do now. You can go back and make the writing a little fancier, you can widen or accent the big letters and the tall ones. “Congratulations”. We’ll just say “Congratulations Graduate” – and we’ll do that in a different color. Now if you are not comfortable writhing with an airbrush on your cake you can do that out of icing. That actually tends to be the more typical way of doing it, but if you are comfortable you can always airbrush it.

Now it’s up to you, when you are doing the artistic work, if you think that’s enough color on the cake – then leave it at that. You can always take it a step further and add flowers – you can do dots down the side, you may or may not like that – it’s entirely up to you. One thing about airbrushing is that it’s a nice effective way of filling in space the extra handwork. It’s speedier. The final step would be to border the cake with icing – otherwise, that’s the finished product.

Now if you think you’ve got this down, I’m going to promote you to Cake Decorator.