Painted cakes are very trendy right now, although I haven't had many customers ask for them. So let's say that they're trendy with other cake decorators.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com
But what do you do if you stink at drawing? When I was in college my best friend told me that she couldn't draw. Me being me, I told her that of course she could, she just needed to practice, but she insisted that no, she could not. I took it upon myself to try to teach her, and after a while I admitted that not everyone could draw or learn how to draw or be taught to draw. That's right, Amy, you broke me.
I don't have any trouble painting cakes, but I know a lot of people who say that they can't draw and they need a template for everything. I've seen tutorials of people showing how to do painted cakes who are using stencils and tracing, so you're not alone if you're freehand drawing-impaired.
Customers Don't Care How You Do It
Copying and using stencils isn't drawing in my opinion, but the point with cakes is that people don't care how you get to the final product, they just want it to look pretty. So if you need to use a crutch go right ahead. It's what you do with the crutch that makes it creative.
Here's a crutch that people can use if you want to do a painted cake and don't draw well. Take printed images on wafer paper or icing sheets, put them on gumpaste or on the cake directly, then paint those.
I've always found the paintings that are really a photograph that have been painted to be really creepy. They're too realistic to be a painting, and the surface is usually flat even though they have paint on them, so they just creep me out. Again, me being me, I decided to use that idea to do a couple of cakes, and it took on a life of its own after the first one.
For this one I cut out printed wafer paper flowers (available in my Etsy shop), cut them out, stuck them to the cake, then overpiped them. I was going to brush embroider them but doing that covered the picture up too much, so I decided to outline them to allow the colors to show through more.
The next one was more painterly in that I covered up most of the images with the "paint".
For this one I took a photo of a flower that I'd taken and printed it in several different sizes, then stuck it to the cake. That by itself was a nice, bold pattern, but I wanted to try painting on it too. I used royal icing thinned out with food color to match the original colors of the images and painted the flowers to look like an oil painting so that there are textures and depth to the pictures. I added some painted leaves and I painted the gumpaste flower on top to match. I left some parts of the images showing through but for the most part they're completely covered up, which is different from the first cake.
So these didn't start out as an "I can't draw" project, but I realized that it would be a way for people who really can't paint to do it. And it's an interesting look.