Introduction: How to Make a Sculpted Zombie Cake.

Picture of How to Make a Sculpted Zombie Cake.

This is my Instructable on how to make a sculpted zombie cake.

I made this cake for a very good friend's October birthday, who is a huge horror and comic fan. This was made custom to look like him but you could tailor the look how you please. It was a surprise for him and he absolutely loved it.

Depending on your artistic skill, this could be hard or easy. I'm an artist, new to cake decorating and this is my 4th sculpted cake (self-taught) and I've been making cakes since August (and am absolutely in love with it!)

Total time spent on it from the start of baking to completion was about 12 hours over the course of 3 days. On one day I baked all the cakes and froze them. The next I made the tombstone and the final day I make to zombie and finished it up.

The tombstone is red velvet cake covered in fondant. The zombie is red velvet cake covered in fondant. The fingers are all fondant and the grass/ground is fondant. The dirt is made from chocolate sandwich cookies (minus their cream layer) and ginger snaps ground up in the food processor. It was hand painted with gel food colorings mixed like watercolors (but not with water.)

Step 1:

Picture of

Here's a list of supplies that I used. There are also recipes or links to recipes used. A lot of the supplies are general cake baking and decorating supplies.

• Cake pans for baking the cakes. I used a quarter sheet pan for the tombstone and two 8" rounds and two 6" rounds.
• General cake decorating supplies: Mixer, spatulas, turn-table, carving/clay/fondant tools, matt to roll fondant on, fondant rolling pin, gel food colors, knife, cake leveler, toothpicks, food-safe paintbrushes, small containers to mix food color "paints" in, 3 quarter sheet cake boards, Exacto knife, hot glue gun, tape, cake support dowels, foil to cover cake boards, etc.
•Ingredients to make cakes, buttercream icing, fondant and to mix food colors with (you will mix the food colorings with something like vodka or clear vanilla extract, not water.)

Here's the link to the alterations made to a box cake mix to make it a little stronger to better support sculpting. I used 3 boxes of cake mix to make this cake. One for the quarter sheet, one for the two 8" rounds and one for the two 6" rounds.

Here's the link to how to make the marshmallow fondant, which is pretty yummy, although very sweet! Pre-made fondant can be bought if you do not want to make the marshmallow fondant but beware that some of the pre-made doesn't taste very appetizing.

Here's a simple recipe for the buttercream icing, a 2 lb batch. This uses shortening in place of butter. I'm in Texas and butter doesn't hold up as well still right now. If you don't have a stand mixer or don't want to make your own icing you can buy some pre-made.
2 Cups Shortening
2 lb bag Powdered Cane Sugar (or approx. 8 Cups)
4 TBSP Meringue Powder
2 tsp Vanilla Extract (use clear vanilla if you want your icing to be white)
2 tsp Butter Flavor (use clear flavor if you want your icing to be white)
1 tsp Almond Extract

Sift together powdered sugar and meringue powder into large bowl. Set aside.
Mix the flavor extracts together in a measuring cup. Add enough water to the mixture to bring the amount to 1/2 a cup. Put this into a mixer bowl with the shortening.
Add about 1/4th of the sifted powdered sugar/meringue powder mixture to the shortening and flavors in the mixer bowl. Beat on a slow speed with the paddle beater and the slowly incorporate the rest of the powdered sugar mix into the mixer bowl as it's slowly mixing. Once it's all in there I usually turn it up a notch in speed for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Then it's done!
Keep it covered until you are ready to use it, as it will "crust" over if you are not ready to use it and leave it uncovered to the air.

Step 2: Bake All Your Cakes!

Let them cool completely after baking, then level the cake tops.

Once they are cooled, put them in the freezer while you build the support system for the tombstone (next step.) I wrap mine all separately in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer.

Step 3: Building the Tombstone Support and Cake Board.

Picture of Building the Tombstone Support and Cake Board.

This was my first time to make a cake with a tall thin structure like the tombstone and I wanted it to be cake so I did some brainstorming and came up with a way to do it that worked for me.

First I hot glued 2 quarter sheet cake boards together to create a thicker over cake base.

Then on the 3rd cake board I measured out the size of the actual quarter sheet pan, plus extra for a corner stand, and cut it out. I scored and bent this piece at the end of the sheet cake size to form a flap. This flap became its base/stand bottom that was glues to the corner of the cake board and trimmed flush with the main cake board.

I then decided on a slight angle so that the cake of the tombstone would very slightly lean back. I used dowels to support the back of the tombstone board. To make it more stable I marked out where the bottom of the 2 dowels would hit the cake board, tracing around them to get the right size marks on the board. Then I cut out the little holes with an Exacto blade all the way through all 3 layers of cake board that is in this area. I squeezed hot glue into one of the holes and inserted the dowel straight up and pushed it all the way down then repeated with the other dowel.

Next I leaned back the vertical part of the tombstone board until it hit the dowels. I put hot glue where they met and then put a little tape over each to secure it until the hot glue was dry.

Then I covered it in the cake foil.

Step 4: Building the Tombstone.

Picture of Building the Tombstone.

Once the base is done, take the sheet cake out of the freezer and get your buttercream ready.

I sliced up the cake in to tall skinny pieces and layered them up the vertical tombstone board with buttercream in between the layers. I pushed 2 dowel supports into the cake surface to give it some more support. Then I covered it in a buttercream crumb coat. This is done to give the fondant a surface it can stick to and to help seal in the moisteness of the cake so it won't dry out. I used a piping tip and bag and just piped it on because the cake was a little crumbly cut like this but it's fine to spatula it on.

Next roll out while fondant large enough to cover the front, top and sides, with a few inches extra to wrap around the cake board backing a few inches. Since the back of the tombstone is the cake board and support system I didn't completely cover the back.

Now here's where you make your tombstone however you like. You can use a food-safe brush to brush on water to attach fondant to fondant so I did that here with all the details.

Once it's done it's time to paint it. Water makes fondant sticky (which is why it's good to use to stick fondant to fondant) but you don't want your fondant getting ruined when you paint it so you use an alcohol-based mixer, like vodka or clear vanilla extract. It won't ruin the fondant and it evaporates fast and leaves the color behind.
I mixed up a watery gray and gave it a wash (then added some mossy green areas later at the end because I decided it needed some.)

Step 5: Add Some Grass/ground to the Main Cake Board Base.

Picture of Add Some Grass/ground to the Main Cake Board Base.

Roll out enough green fondant to cover the cake board. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the board surface so the fondant will stick. Cover it with fondant and remove an area of fondant where the zombie will go. I gave this green fondant and simple crosshatch grassy type texture.

Later, after the zombie is in place I then used more green fondant to build a ridge around the zombie that was raised, up to the edge of the tombstone, that would help hold in the "dirt" and make it look like the ground was being pushed out. I also gave this the same texture.

Step 6: Build Your Zombie.

Picture of Build Your Zombie.

Take your two 8" rounds and two 6" rounds out of the freezer and stack them in this order, buttercream between layers: 8" on bottom, second 8", then a 6" and the second 6" on top.

Next take a knife and carve your basic zombie's shape, whatever or whoever that may be. I gave mine the basic shape then carved out a few details like depressions where I would add the eyes in later, and basic mouth, nose, creases.

Once you have it carved, give it a crumb coat of buttercream. I just used a cake spatula on this part.

Next, roll out enough white fondant to cover this. I smoothed out the fondant, using first my fingers and then my tools to further define the shapes of the facial features. The eyes and the ears were added after this.

On the eye that's there I added the eye ( a smooth slightly domed circle) and then the eyelids over top, and detailed (and gave it that nice milky zombie eye look when painting.) On the missing eye that is actually inset a bit so there's a hollow where the eye used to be. I created a deeper depression with my thumb and then added the eyelids.

I formed the shape of the ears and detailed them after I connected them.

Then went to town with the details of the sagging, rotting skin and his hair and facial hair.

I formed the fingers out of fondant.

I then hand painted him. I mixed up 9 different hues of different colors and some more "watery" than others.

Step 7: Putting It All Together.

Picture of Putting It All Together.

Once the zombie is finished, spread some buttercream on the cake board in the area you left for him and set him in place. Now is when I added the grass ridge. I then added the fingers coming over the ridge.

The final step is adding in your "dirt" of ground up chocolate sandwich cookies and ginger snaps. I filled in the area within the ridge, with a little spilling over for effect, piling up some around his fingers and even putting some in and on top of his ears and on top of his head.

And now frighten, butcher and enjoy!


RihannaMills (author)2015-03-25


anin carmelittes (author)2014-10-11

you should join the contest on the halloween event.....

Сразу видно , что лепил с себя. Очень похож!

So bored (author)2011-11-03

Oooh and by the way hoew much did you take to do this!!! It's a very awesome hard work congrats!!!!! (: <3

tchitwood (author)So bored2011-11-03

Thank you! Took me about 12 hours total, give or take an hour.

CrispnCrumbly (author)2011-11-01

This is an awesome Instructable! My daughter asked for a zombie cake for her birthday, and though I am an experienced baker, I didn't have a clue what to do. I followed your instructions (though the sculpting too 2 tries) and the results were great. It was a real hit with her classmates, who were appropriately grossed out. I used red velvet, but couldn't get the color dark enough, ditto with icing, so I filled with cherry filling to insure a gooey center. The pics will be up on my blog at

tchitwood (author)CrispnCrumbly2011-11-01

Thank you! I'm so glad my Instructable was a help! That's so cool she wanted a zombie cake :) I'm glad it was a hit and look forward to seeing the photos on your blog!

sbeam hayes (author)2011-10-14

Very cool and thanks for the link to the recipe for the dense cake.

tchitwood (author)sbeam hayes2011-10-14

Thank you and your welcome! I've actually been adding an extra egg and an extra 1/2 cup of flour and it's been perfect for sculpting for me, but still moist and not quite as dense as pound cake.

lmoses1 (author)2011-09-29

OMG!!! Love, love your work! You are very detailed AND you don't mind sharing.
Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to see your next project.

tchitwood (author)lmoses12011-09-29

Thank you so much! Next couple cakes aren't much sculpting, but hopefully they come out well. So far I haven't done as well with non-sculpted cakes, lol!

oneprimalscream (author)2011-09-12

How did you cover it in cake foil after you had assembled the tombstone baseboard?

I just wrapped it around, taping it in places where the foil wouldn't stay in place, on underside of the foil with tape looped around on itself with the sticky side outside. I hope that makes sense!

oRelyTo (author)2011-07-31

These are really amazing cakes that you made!! Try seeing if it is possible for you to get into "Cake Chef Challenge" show. I am sure you could get into it.

It's a realy copy of your face!

Well, not of my face :) It's my friend's face!

Sorry. ))
Nevertheless, a very beautiful work

Hee hee :) Thank you!

XofHope (author)2011-02-24

This has to be the most amazing cake I've ever seen! You're truly talented!

marshaecleveland (author)2011-01-10

Oh, and congratulations on your win too... :D

And thank you again! Can't tell you how excited I was to win the food category! That prize sure has come in handy too. :)

marshaecleveland (author)2011-01-10

I have never seen a cake like this one before. I have seen over-the-hill cakes that have tombstones and hands, but they can't hold a candle to what you have accomplished. And then to share your masterpiece and techniques here only adds to my awe and amazement. Thank-you, you have the talent, the ambition, so go for it! Bases on what I see... Your cakes will always be the life of the party!

Thank you so much! I'm having a lot of fun making these cakes and learning and teaching myself how to do most of this. Kind of fun to go at it from an artists view. It's more like sculpting and painting to me than cake decorating. Entering my first live show competition at the end of February in Austin, TX at the That Takes The Cake show. Entering the Showcake competition. Scary and exciting all at the same time! Never even been to a cake show to just look so I have no idea what to expect.

mary candy (author)2010-11-18

Congrats to the prize on the Halloween contest.
You really deserved it.

tchitwood (author)mary candy2010-11-18

Thank you so much! :) It was so much fun and I'm so happy that I got into the sculpted cakes!

wa5bbc (author)2010-11-10

Great Job Tami! You really do have the talent ! Love ya...........Dad

BrittLiv (author)2010-11-10

voted! I love all of your cakes and hope, that you will post more

tchitwood (author)BrittLiv2010-11-10

Thank you so much! I'm making a Wonder Woman cake for this weekend and then I have 3 cakes in December that I'm making, so I definitely will be posting more! Hoping to make a video soon but I'm not sure how well my little camera will work for that. :)

aramanthe (author)2010-11-03

You are amazing at this! I love the cake and the fact that you made it to look like him. I bet he was very impressed with it!

Khozo (author)2010-10-18

Awesome! Definitely want to try this one out.

Screamo (author)2010-10-17


OleBill (author)2010-10-12


lindsey40 (author)2010-10-12

This is really impressive, great job.

farzadbayan (author)2010-10-12

Nice ! It's a copy of your face , masterly !

mary candy (author)2010-10-12

wauu very funny but disgusting hahahahhaha

mary candy (author)mary candy2010-10-12

***** and my vote to food category ;)

The_Monkey_King (author)2010-10-11

Very nice! What tools did you use to sculpt the cakes? You said you carved them; did you use ordinary knives?

Thank you for sharing!

Hi there! And thank you!

I just used a steak knife when carving the cake (it was half frozen to make for easier carving, a little less crumbly) and then used clay sculpting tools and my hands/fingers to work in the detail on the fondant.

lemonie (author)2010-10-10

That's proper-good. Do you have a photo with it being cut?


tchitwood (author)lemonie2010-10-10


Yes, in the "Intro" step if you scroll down there are several photos you can bring up of different phases of the cutting, starting with the knife in the head and then a couple of cuts. :)

lemonie (author)tchitwood2010-10-11

Oh yes. An axe would be good (now I'm thinking about weird-weddings...


noahh (author)lemonie2010-10-10

See step one.

AngryRedhead (author)2010-10-11

I think I need friends like you. Great work!

LittleGrace (author)2010-10-10

Love the cake and the red cake inside was awesome!

tchitwood (author)2010-10-10

Thank you all! Each time I do one I learn more. Next one will be done for the 30th and another Halloween theme. I can't wait!

mikeasaurus (author)2010-10-10

great cake, and a good resemblance.

tchitwood (author)mikeasaurus2010-10-10

I agree... mmm... zombie-cake...

canida (author)2010-10-10

Wow, that's incredible! Dave looks justifiably concerned. ;)
And red velvet cake looks awesome in the cutting pictures. Make more cakes! Yours are incredibly inspiring.

0jack (author)2010-10-10

That's fabulous. You are really talented! Thanks for sharing. :)

LividMonkey (author)2010-10-10

This is totally epic. I wish I was that good at sculpting.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hello! I am an artist who has decided to try cake decorating after a close friend suggested it. I have been making cakes since August ... More »
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