Cake Decorating Blog

How to Airbrush a Wow-Worthy Ombré Cake

With this effortless cake decorating technique, you will be able to create quick and seamless ombré shading on your cake. Even if you’re not an expert at airbrushing, you will be able to use this method; in fact, this is probably the easiest way to transform your cake from plain-looking to incredible! As an added bonus, I am also going to show you how to airbrush a gorgeous, ethereal peony.

Learn how to create a seamless or striped ombré finish on your cake in this how-to tutorial.

Materials:

• A fondant covered cake
• Clear alcohol such as Vodka or Gin
• Food coloring such as red (or dark pink), blue and white gel coloring or airbrush coloring
• Small whisk such as a balloon whisk
• A tablespoon (15 ml) measuring spoon
• Four bowls or plastic container
• Paintbrush or pastry brush
• A4-sized sheets of paper
• Ruler
• Sterilized pins
• Airbrush and a 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm needle
• Compressor
Spray booth (optional)
• Kitchen towels or ear buds
• A white sugar flower, such as a peony

You can use any kind of airbrush and any needle size, but I prefer a size 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm needle since it will cover a larger spray area in a shorter amount of time.

Airbrushing tools

Instructions:

Ombré step1

Step 1:

Measure ¼ cup (60 ml) of clear alcohol into a bowl or plastic container, and add ⅛ tsp (1.25 ml) red and a ⅛ tsp (1.25 ml) of blue gel food coloring into the alcohol. Stir it well with a small whisk to dissolve the food coloring. If you see any small particles in the mixture, strain it through a sieve, otherwise it might clog your airbrush nozzle.

Tip: If you are decorating a tiered cake, use double the amount of clear alcohol and food coloring.

If you do not want to use alcohol and normal gel food coloring, use specially formulated food coloring for airbrushing such as AmeriColor Air Brush Food Color. Mix together equal amounts of red and blue and then add blue, red or white coloring as described above. Mix your airbrush food coloring in such a way that you have at least one tablespoonful of each shade of purple.

Ombré step2

Step 2:

Measure out 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of liquid at a time, and pour it into three more bowls or plastic containers, so that you have four bowls or containers in total.

Ombré step3

Step 3:

Add a drop of blue food coloring into the first bowl and a drop of red food coloring into the second bowl.
Add two or more drops of white food coloring into the last two bowls or plastic containers, and then add another tablespoon (15 ml) of clear alcohol into the fourth bowl or container.
Tip: White gel food coloring leaves small particles behind that do not easily mix into alcohol, therefore strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the small particles.

Ombré step4

Step 4:

Use a paintbrush or pastry brush to paint each shade of purple on a piece of paper, to make sure that you like the color. If you do not, add a few more drops of food coloring to the separate paint mixtures. To lighten the colors add more white food coloring or clear alcohol. To darken the colors add more blue or even a drop of brown food coloring.

Ombré step

Step 5:

Place your fondant-covered cake on a piece of greaseproof paper to protect your work surface from too much food coloring. Practice on a rolled out, scrap piece of fondant or on a piece of paper, before you start on your cake.
Tip: If you do not own a spray booth work in a well-ventilated area or outside, using a lead to supply electricity to your compressor.
Ombré step6

Step 6:

Measure the height of the cake with a ruler, and divide it by four. Use a sterilized pin to mark each quarter of the cake. Add a few more pins around the cake, each placed at a quarter-measurement to guide you when spraying the food coloring.

Ombré step

Step 7:

Either place the cake (on the greaseproof paper) on a turntable or turn the cake by rotating the greaseproof paper while airbrushing. Spray from side to side while spinning the cake around.
Use your tablespoon-measuring spoon to pour liquid into the airbrush’s reservoir cup. Place a small amount of the darkest color into the cup and start airbrushing the bottom quarter of the cake. To create seamless colors, just spray the food coloring casually without worrying about going over the allocated quarter.
Spray the darkest food coloring only on the bottom quarter of the cake, refilling the airbrush cup when necessary. Spray only one layer of coloring, and let it dry. You can always re-spray over the area, when it has dried, if you want it slightly darker.

Ombré step

Step 8:

Airbrush the second quarter of the cake with the second darkest purple, slightly going over the bottom color to blend the seams where the colors meet.

Ombré step9 Ombré step9

Step 9:

Spray the next quarter of the cake with a lighter shade of purple, and then spray the top quarter as well as the top of the cake with the lightest shade. By placing more distance between the airbrush nozzle and the cake, you will create an even lighter shade of color.
If you want to darken any of the shades, re-spray over that specific area with the same shade of purple when it has dried. Rather add a few layers of color, than to spray too much liquid on one area, otherwise small droplets of food coloring will form on the surface of the cake. If small droplets have formed, press lightly on the area with kitchen towel or wipe away a few droplets with an ear bud dipped in clear alcohol.

Ombré droplets on cake

How to create an ombré stripe:

Stripe step1

To create a definite stripe rather than a seamless ombré-look, take out all the pins except those at the top edge of the quarter that you are working on. Place a piece of paper over the top part of the cake, lightly resting it on the pins, to mask that area, so that only the bottom quarter of the cake is visible.

Airbrush food coloring on the open space, going slightly over the paper to create a darker line just underneath the paper.

Stripe step2

When you have finished spraying the bottom quarter, place pins on the top edge of the next quarter of the cake, in other words halfway up the cake, and move the paper upwards to create another open space. Use a lighter shade of purple to airbrush this quarter of the cake.

Stripe step3

Repeat this technique with the rest of the food coloring to make definite stripes, spraying from the darkest to the lightest color.

Stripe step4

Ombré peony:

Ombré peony step1

To color the sugar peony purple, use the  food coloring in the order described above, spraying the darkest purple in the center of the flower and airbrushing the lighter colors towards the outside of the flower, as well as underneath the flower.

Ombré peony step2
Hold the flower at least 12” (30 cm) away from the airbrush and spray light layers of color, waiting in between for the colors to dry. Re-spray the area if you want to make the colors darker.

Ombré peony step3

To learn how to make this gorgeous sugar peony be sure to sign-up for the class Decorating Cakes in Three Dimensions with Maggie Austin.

Sign me up! »

If you have any leftover purple coloring pour all of it together, into a glass jar with a lid, and label the jar “purple airbrush color” to use for another project.
Off course, you could also use this ombré technique to color a variety of other items such as isomalt, edible icing sheets and wafer paper.

Ombré airbrushed peony and cake

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19 Comments

kuldeep singh

Airbrush can make any product beautiful ujust need to guts to make that product beautiful that’s the bottom line form kuldeep siingh

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

That is so true Kuldeep, just keep on practicing with your airbrush and you will make your cake beautiful! Thank you for your comment.

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Thank you so much for your kind comment Michelle! x

Reply
Kay Swales

This is so beautiful, I’m inspired to try this out myself thanks for sharing best regards Kay.

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Thank you Kay, I would love to see your work. Kind regards, Katrien

Reply
Joan

Can you get this same effect by airbrushing on buttercream? Just wondering if it will hold up as well. Thank you.

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Hi Joan, I am sure that you would be able to get this effect on buttercream. Just use light layers of airbrushing and build up the colors so that they don’t bleed. Kind regards, Katrien

Reply
Angela

You mentioned storing any leftover color in a glass jar, is there a reason for using glass? Or can food grade plastic jars be used?
Thank you!

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Hi Angela, I am sure food grade plastic will be fine as long as the plastic does not leach into the alcohol.

Reply
cassandra

Thank You for the tutorial, just in time for a cake required for happy teen & me to create it!:)

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

It’s a pleasure Cassandra, I am so glad you are able to use the tutorial.

Reply
Sum Mohammed

Hi .. Is there other ways of having the airbrush effect if u don’t own one .
Would appreciate ur reply … Thank you

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Hi Sum, you could get the same effect using dry dusting powders and a large blusher brush. Just dust the dry powder onto your cake, going lighter as you move upwards. Make sure your fondant has set overnight so that you don’t indent your cake. Kind regards, Katrien

Reply
Jennifer

Thank you for the tutorial. Quick question, will it work on white chocolate ganache instead of the fondant?
Beautiful cake by the way.

Reply
Katrien Van Zyl

Hi Jennifer, I think it will work if you spray very light layers and let it dry in between. If you spray too heavily the color will bead because of all the fat in the ganache. Thank you for the compliment!

Reply
Dulce

What brand airbrush are you using? I have been looking around for a good quality airbrush

Reply
Dulce

What brand of airbrush did you use? I’m looking for a durable airbrush

Reply
maria

HI,
IF I NEED TO COVER (VERY GOOD COVERAGE-SOLID) A 30 CM CAKE WITH 10 HEIGHT, HOW MANY ml I NEED TO USE?

Reply

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