So what's a girl, or boy, to do if say you want a character on your cake sans fondant or even sugar paste?
Well, you can kind of "stencil" it on and here's how. I don't have the most steady hands and using this technique really enabled me to now pipe images on cakes freehand.
First look for an image that you would like to put on to your cake. For your first time a simple image would be the way to go, say something like this;
Make a couple of copies, next cut the figure out in its entire shape, like this
You want to cut lines out where any shape is that you will give you a basic outline of the shape, in this picture, I cut lines for the trunk, the eyes, the lines on the ears and head and the lines separating the legs
Next you will place the figure directly onto your frosted cake and then ever so gently, using a toothpick, press the figure onto the frosting so that you will get an indentation of the outline of the figure that you are using. You will want the cake to have been chilled for at least an hour so that the frosting is nice and firm so that the paper wont stick to the frosting.
After you have pressed the figure onto the cake, gently peel it off. Then you will see the basic outline of the figure on your cake. Like this;
You can see how the outline of the image is on the cake. This will give you a guideline to follow and fill in with frosting.
Next, you can use any color that you would like, I tend to use black on almost all the images that I use, it gives a nice depth to the image.
After I pipe the black outline of the image, I fill it in with the colors I will be using. It's best to follow along the black outline first before you fill in the entire shape of the image. For small details like in this image, I fill in the toes and the eyes as well to start out with. While I pipe in the color that I will fill the image with, I pipe over about half of the black outline, making the black outline look like a fine detailed line
As I fill in the rest of the image with the gray frosting, I am careful to not cover the black outline. Once the image is filled in with the base color, I then pipe over all of the black lines. In the picture above I have piped over the right side of the image to show the difference it makes once I pipe over the original black outline. (Hopefully) you can see the difference it makes. The right side has more definition.
After the base color is piped in and I go over the black line again, I fill in small spaces such as the toes and the eyes with more frosting for more definition.
After I have filled the figure by piping in the frosting, I go over the smaller details such as the eyes and the mouth to give the figure more life. Nothing more depressing then an elephant on a birthday cake that looks as if it had a lobotomy.
After I have the image on the cake, I prefer to write what ever message the occasion is for onto the cake and then add other details afterwards.
Writing on a cake takes practice, rather then going directly onto the cake, practice a few times on a paper towel or saran wrap or tin foil, you get the idea. I have also found that if you write "in the air" holding the pastry bag a couple of inches away from the cake and let the frosting "fall onto the cake" the penmanship tends to look a lot better. But hey, I figured this out for myself, something else might work better for you. Trial and error my friends, trial and error.
After I have the writing and the image on the cake I like to fill in any empty spaces with accents that would compliment the image. Why all these dots seemed to make sense to me I have no real reason for, but it's what I went for and I like it. Dammit.
Next look for how I will show you how I crumb coat a cake and get frosting to look as smooth as fondant, awe yeah...