Creative Process : Watercolor

How to make a Watercolor Cake | by Allison Kelleher for

Our contributor, Allison Kelleher of AK Cake Design, is sharing a peek at her creative process as she explores watercolor on cake…

Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |


Lately, I’ve been playing around with ‘watercolor’ painting – the traditional technique – very much like you would do on paper – but without paper or water!  When I came across this lovely Rex Ray painting, I knew it would be the perfect inspiration.  The colors are so fresh and pretty, and they blend together beautifully.


Rex Ray Painting | Watercolor Cake Inspiration |


It took a little trial and error to figure out how to create a ‘watercolor painting’ on fondant – in the end, I realized that the key to the process is drying time – and lots of it!


Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |


To start off, I rolled out a pretty thin piece of fondant and let it sit out a bit.  I mixed petal dust with lemon extract; then I painted.  When you use a lot of lemon extract, you get all sorts of interesting shapes and colors.  But it can take several hours to dry.


Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |


When the fondant is easy enough to handle, cut into shapes and apply to your cake.  Design-wise, I used a free-form, organic aesthetic but then contained it within the stripes.


Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |

Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |


I really enjoyed the process of painting – it was fun (and different) for me – with no rules, no right or wrong way to do it, and no need to be precise!


Watercolor Cake by AK Cake Design  |


Cake & Photography : AK Cake Design
Inspiration Painting : Rex Ray
Learn From This Baker : Modern Mosaic Cakes with Allison Kellher on Craftsy

Allison Kelleher , CONTRIBUTOR

Allison Kelleher is the owner + baker at AK Cake Design in Portland, OR. She loves color, pattern, texture, and all things sweet. Read more about Allison on her bio page


  1. 4


    So cool…cake decorating is truly an art form! I love this watercolor technique for fondant. Will be trying to find an excuse to try this soon!

  2. 5

    Edith Musch says

    Lovely! But I was wondering: instead of lemonjuice, couldn’t you use clear alcohol, like vodka? I suspect it wouldn’t take as long to dry either.

  3. 9

    Catherine says

    Hello Allison,
    This is so remarkable! I just looooove it! Thank you for your generosity in sharing your BEAUTIFUL technique. Can I ask what you applied your painted fondant panels to? Was it buttercream or a fondant-covered cake? What type of covered cakes will this work with? Thank you!!!

    • 10


      Hi Catherine,
      Thank you so much! I applied my stripes to a fondant covered cake, but it would work just as well if they were applied to buttercream. Just make sure the buttercream is cold, so you have a firm surface to work on. :)
      Have fun!

  4. 12



    Thanks for the inspiration! I have a dummy cake to make for a venue and I hadn’t decided on design, now I have. I’ll create the watercolor in blues/greens and accent with a white lotus flower. Thanks for kick starting this design for me. When Erin Fale, from Sugarhouse Cake and I meet for coffee, she talks about your designs and how beautiful they are, and she’s right.

    Here’s to wedding season being over soon 😉 ~ Renae

  5. 13

    Rose says

    Thanks for sharing this piece of art, it’s wonderful the way you’ve applied watercolour painting to decorating a cake. The photographs are beautifully done, too – it makes the process look fun (and achievable!)

  6. 14

    Renae Heineck says

    Just finished the 3-tier cake with this technique! It was easy and came together beautifully. The trick is letting the fondant get a bit of a “skin” on it before painting. I also sprinkled the luster/petal dust onto the wet lemon extract for effect. I loved the colors so much, with the left over colored fondant scraps I cut out flowers. I really enjoyed implementing this technique into my decorating. Thanks so much Allison.

  7. 15

    sue l. says

    can you use other types of paints or just the dust type and maybe vodka ? this cake is beautiful I love the idea of painting them makes them even more special no two alike ! thanks for sharing to all of us =)

  8. 16

    Leeann says

    Truly a work of art! Thanks for sharing. If I wanted to decorate a ruffled cake, could I use the same method and ruffle the strips after it has dried or would you paint on fondant strips which have already been hardened slightly and ruffled? Thanks!!

  9. 17

    Camille says

    When I first tried this I used Everclear and a make-up sponge and it came out beautiful. Then I tried vodka and it was a terrible sticky mess. I don’t know why; it could have been any number of factors. This was just my experience. I love this modern technique and style of cake!

    • 18

      Dora Moreno says

      I believe Everclear has a higher alcohol content since it is a grain alcohol. That would make it dry faster than Vodka, thus avoiding the sticky mess!

  10. 19

    Tannah says

    Just wondering if you would be able to use powdered food colouring instead of petal dust and still achieve the same result?

  11. 20

    Brunda says

    I so happy to see this. My doubt is can I use cocoa butter with gel colours to paint on buttercream fondant. Does this makes any difference. As I am not user of alcohol. R same thing as you said using lemon juice. Please reply. Thank for beautiful blog

  12. 21

    Eloise says

    What brand of petal dust do you use? And what colours are you using for this cake? The colours work so well together, it looks so beautiful!!!

    Thank you :) xxx


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