• Fairytale Illustrated Cake Tutorial (Guest Post by Phyllis Macaluso)

    Phyllis Macaluso’s fabulous fairytale illustrated cakes first appeared in Issue 8 of Calligraphy Crush Magazine. I am delighted to share the instructions for making them here on the TPK blog as well! In this article, you’ll be inspired by a tutorial, learn about a must-have art supply, and find a helpful PDF.

    Floral Fairytale Painted Cakes Tutorial | Phyllis Macaluso
    This fairytale-worthy illustrated cake boasts beautiful autumn colors with gold highlights. You’ll learn how to make a cake like this one in today’s article!

    Phyllis Macaluso‘s fairytale illustrated cakes are a feast for the eyes! Today, Phyllis will walk us through how to make these scrumptious wonders with instructions and a helpful handout.

    1. Plan Your Illustrated Cake

    Before you jump into using watercolors, use the Fairytale Illustrated Cake Handout to choose a shape for your cake. Then, lightly sketch the shape out in pencil. If you plan to enhance the area around the cake with calligraphy, you can go ahead and write your calligraphy, too.

    Fairytale Illustrated Cakes Draft

    2. Make a Color Plan

    Now, use your favorite watercolor palette to experiment with some color schemes for your cakes. The prettiest cakes are the ones that include ample contrast! Your color scheme swatches should build up from a dark value to a light value.

    Experimenting with Colors
    If you want some ideas for color schemes, try Googling “pretty color palette”. That should present you with a few nice color combinations!

    3. Use a Triangle Brush to Paint

    Phyllis swears by using a triangle brush for projects like this one! It’s fabulous for painting flowers and gradients. To use the triangle brush, wet it in water for ~30 seconds. Then, dip the tip of the brush into moistened watercolor paint. Dunk the brush quickly in water again to dilute it, then wipe the brush against the side of your palette or art water cup to remove excess water. Then, tap the brush hairs gently on a sheet of paper towel. A little more than half of your brush has diluted color worked into it, while the upper most part of the brush (closest to the handle) has just water. With the tip of the brush, go back into the same color, and work it into the front end of the brush only. Tap the brush on a paper towel to test the result.

    Ideally, your triangle brush should paint three shades at once: dark, light, and very light.

    At this point, you can use your triangle brush to paint cake layers!

    Fairytale Illustrated Cake Tutorial

    Now, use the tip of your brush to paint a cake stand under the cake. You’ll start by painting a thin rectangle that’s parallel to the bottom of the cake. Then, make several “U” shapes to represent ruffles, and finish up by painting an upside down “T”.

    Fairytale Illustrated Cake Tutorial

    4. Add Flowers

    Any respectable fairytale cake is embellished with flowers! To make perfect florals, load your triangle brush with two colors. Then, put your brush to paper and turn the bristles slowly in a clockwise motion, keeping the tip of the brush in the same spot. Stop once you’ve made a petal that’s to your liking! Repeat the process 4-5 times until you’ve got a flower.

    Wedge Brush Flowers

    To make tiny flowers, you’ll need a tiny triangle brush.

    This is the start of a pretty cake with florals!

    Use your triangle brush to paint several petals and leaves until your cake is beautifully adorned! Then, use your pointed pen and gold watercolor to draw leafy sprigs and flourishes. (Use the technique outlined in this article to use your dip pen to draw the sprigs!)

    Floral Fairytale Painted Cakes Tutorial

    5. Try a Cupcake!

    If you don’t want to take on a full-blown layer cake, try painting a cupcake instead. To do that, use your triangle brush to paint five lines that splay out, as pictured below. The gradient effect does a great job representing the texture of a cupcake wrapper.

    Next, use your triangle brush to paint icing on the cupcake. Be sure to put the darker value of color at the top, which will give your cupcake some dimension.

    Illustrated Cupcake

    Finish up by adorning your cupcake with small flowers, leaves, and sprigs of gold watercolor.

    Floral Cupcake

    Fairytale Illustrated Cake Handout

    Phyllis had a long career as a teacher before she became a calligrapher, so she understands the importance of examples! To supplement this article, she put together a helpful handout with plenty of examples of florals, cake shapes, and gradients to help you get inspired.

    Fairytale Illustrated Cakes Handout


    I hope that you enjoyed Phyllis’s tutorial and inspirational photos as much as I did! I’ve actually never used a triangle brush before, but the prospect of painting these floral cakes prompted me to purchase two sizes of triangle brushes (small and medium) from Paper & Ink Arts. I can’t wait to try them out! Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.


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