In a time when even literary classics have been retold with a zombie twist (Yes, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is a real thing!) we had to have a living dead cake. Queen of dark designs Tracey Rothwell is the perfect artist to show you how to make fear in fondant…
This tutorial was originally shown in Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft magazine in October 2016:
You will need
15 and 12cm (6 and 5in) round cakes
green/grey, dark blue/grey, flesh sugarpaste
red and black food gel
airbrush with green, brown and black colours
25cm (10in) cake drum
black ribbon and glue
1 Secure your 15cm cake to the drum with buttercream and stack/fill up to the 12cm cake leaving some layers to the side.
2 Cut the extra layer pieces up to create ledges and hills, securing to the cake with buttercream, and start to carve slopes, edges and crevices.
3 Cover the cake roughly in white sugarpaste - resist the temptation to start smoothing as you want rough rocky edges! With your fingers, pinch ledges to a point.
4 Scrunch up a ball of tinfoil and use it all over the sugarpaste to create texture. Cheapest tool ever!
5 Spray areas of the hill in green, this is to create an undertone of mossy areas on the rocks. If you don’t have an airbrush you can paint on colour with a brush, like a watercolour solution.
6 Then with your brown and black airbrush colour go over the entire cake concentrating on making the crevices and ledges dark where there would be shadows etc.
7 With dark green sugarpaste add various shapes on the top, ledges, board and sides using a Dresden tool to mark in the grass and texture.
8 For patches of moss, use the tip of your Dresden tool to puncture and pull parts of the sugarpaste around.
9 Take a kebab skewer and a wire and tape them securely together with either florist tape or parafilm. Hold the skewers up to the cake and trim off any excess, you want the skewers to go through into the bottom cake, and also protrude at the top for legs.
10 Join the top of the skewers together with more tape and join the wires, bent at the top for arms.
11 Add in a little extra wire for the neck and head, bend the arms into an outstretched position and snip off excess.
12 Insert the armature into the cake and make sure the legs are not too long or too short.
Top Tip! If you have an airbrush, but have been too scared to use it, now is the time. This cake is a grubby zombie cake, so it doesn’t matter if it goes too wrong.
13 With black sugarpaste create two short sausage shapes, cutting a slit in the backs for it to fit around the wire.
14 Choose the position of your feet. Here I have left one foot slightly curled over as if he’s dragging it along as he steps. Add trim to the shoes with a long thin sausage wrapped around the base and indent details with a Dresden tool.
15 For the pants I used dark blue. They are made by rolling a long sausage and cutting out a channel for it to fit around the wire. Slightly dampen the channel with water and pinch back together once around the armature.
16 Add the other leg, smooth together and then add in knees, pleats and detail with the Dresden tool.
17 The torso is done in dark grey cut in two halves. Add one to the back of the wire, and join the front up using a little water as glue.
18 With the Dresden tool hollow out a little area for the neck to sit in.
19 I used grey-flesh for the zombie skin, made with flesh sugarpaste, white and a tiny touch of black. Insert a small ball into the neck area and pull up around the wire.
20 With a lighter grey cut out a rectangle of paste to create a shirt and wrap it around the torso.
21 The arms are made in the same way. A sausage of sugarpaste with a channel cut out and wrapped around the wire. Make sure your wire is bent into the position you want first.
22 To create hands, use a teardrop shape of sugarpase and cut out a little notch to create a thumb. At the end slice in slits to create fingers and gently round them out between your fingers.
23 With the Dresden tool you can mark in the joints of the fingers - this helps you to bend them into a ‘grabbing’ position.
24 Add the hands to the remaining wire, trimming if you need to. Position them how you like, and stick with a little water.
25 Time for the head. This is also good if you have been too scared to try faces - he doesn’t have to be perfect, so just give it a go! I start with an oval shape, and press in two eye sockets with my little fingers. It will create a little bridge for the nose so you can push up with the Dresden tool to create the bulb of the nose.
26 Press in two holes for nostrils with the Dresden tool.
27 For the mouth, cut out a hollow area with a scalpel or knife. Fill the area in with some black sugarpaste and using the Dresden tool shape the mouth so it is distorted, running the tool around the bottom to create a lip.
28 Add a strip of white to the top of the mouth and with a knife score in lines for the teeth. Mark out eyes, and hollow them with a scalpel.
29 Fill in the eye sockets with a little white so they still look sunken. Add in wrinkles, eye bags, cuts and lines with a Dresden tool...be as vicious as you like, he is a zombie!
30 Give him some ears, and paint in his eyes. Here I have used some metallic silver paint to give him a blind/dead look, but you can use whatever you like!
31 Add the head to the neck, painting on brown watered down gel to emphasize the wrinkles, red for blood, and black around the pleats of the clothing.
32 With dark brown gel stipple on with a paintbrush for hair (or leave him bald!)33 For clumps of grass, roll long sausages that taper off to a point, hold together in a bunch and trim off a flat bottom with a scalpel.
33 For clumps of grass, roll long sausages that taper off to a point, hold together in a bunch and trim off a flat bottom with a scalpel.
34 The rocks start out as a ball then pinched between your fingers to create edges. Make lots of different shapes and sizes to fill in areas.
35 Add in the grass and rocks, sticking with a little water. If you want to, you can also add in wood debris/planks/car tyres/zombie body parts!
36 My favourite bit. Edible blood! I have tried a few ways over the years but I prefer this one for drippy blood: light corn syrup (I used Karo) red gel colouring, and a little black food colouring.
37 Using a paintbrush check the colour of the blood by letting it run off the end, it should be a deep red colour. It will also be quite thick, but don’t worry, it still creates great drips!
38 Using your paintbrush carefully, let it drip onto an area of the cake, you only need a little drip because when you come back to it later, you will find it will have travelled a lot further down the cake.
39 Add more drips wherever you like! On the zombie’s face, clothing, grass, rocks.... go crazy!
Did you enjoy this free tutorial? If you're looking for something else that's totally on trend (just a bit brighter!) then check out our free #TrendAlert! Mandala Art tutorial!
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