Royal Icing Transfers (Lightning McQueen)




Introduction: Royal Icing Transfers (Lightning McQueen)

About: I'm a Designer, Creator, Inventor. #1 Hobby - brainstorming. I invented the Unicorn Poop cookie, as published here on instructables. And now I am a metalsmith. <3

This is the easiest way to get a classy design onto something edible.  You can use this technique for cakes, cookies, and beyond.  I had experimented so many ways to get Lightning McQueen onto a cookie with the most accuracy and the least hassle.  It turns out - if you have a custom design to do and you want to do it perfectly, it's going to cost you the time to do so.

This process takes a number of days, depending on the quantity that you're creating.

The effect that you get in the end, is amazing!  I'm pretty excited about how these turned out and I will always use this technique when I need a character of some sort.

Example:  "I want a My Little Pony Cake!!!"  All you have to do is find an image online that you like, or you can buy a coloring book at the dollar store for the framework.  EASY! :D  Or, you can draw your own, like I did for this project! :)

Step 1: What You Need.

old food boxes for light cardboard
wax paper
scotch tape
royal icing, already made into the colors you need
piping bags, tips, squeeze bottles
in idea/image to start with

Step 2: Your Image

I found a version of Lightning McQueen that showed a good angle of him, it was compact enough, and it had enough defining detail for what I needed.  The only problem was that it had too much detail.  So I drew my own version, based on what I was looking at, so that it fit my needs and was recognizable.

Make sure that your object is simplified or executable for your need.  :D  The file that I attached is my drawing.

I drew it out, scanned it, printed it in various sizes and then I decided on the one size that I would use. Once you have it chosen, cut it to size, with some space around it, and tape it onto a slice of cardboard, like a mini sign on a stick.

Step 3: Cut Your Boards.

Tediuous, I know!  But this is the safest way to do it.  You will be moving these around, when you switch between them, so you need them all to have a sturdy back to help support your icing design.

I took boxes from food and cut them out into the shape that I needed, in the AMOUNT that I needed to make, so I had tons of backboards ready for all of these creations.

After you have all the boards cut...cut the same amount of wax paper, in those same sizes and use one piece of scotch tape on the right and left sides, to hold it TIGHT to the board.  You don't want it baggy or loose.

You're going to slip your IMAGE from the last step, which is on a "stick", into each of these wax paper - backboards.  That way, you don't need tons of images, and it's SLIP -n- GO.  :D :D

Step 4: Start Your Engines!

Now that you have a perfect setup for an icing factory - get to WORK.

For outlines, you are using THICK royal icing. "10 second icing" or "15 second icing"  and the way you test this, is...  have a bowl of royal icing and run a spoon across.  You just split the icing on the top layer and made two edges when you did that.  If they touch immediately and your line is gone - it's not thick enough.  You want 10-15 seconds to go by before the line that you made is gone.  You can thicken your icing slowly, with increments of powdered sugar.  

Think strategically about your design.  You want to start with an outline.  Do this, and let it dry overnight because it's the most important piece, it's your design's foundation.  Even though the tires are black, in my image, if I let the outline dry, the tires can be filled in later and they will look puffy.  It makes more sense.  And you have to remember, royal icing will blob together unless the edges next to it are DRY.

Keep those tips in mind as you ice way.  My suggestion is to let these pieces dry for hours in between the steps, but I let the outlines dry overnight.

After you have the outline on your object, you probably won't need to have your image slipped inside anymore but you can keep it near you, to refer to.

Step 5: Layering

From this point on, the idea is to layer your colors. 

Now you are using FLOW icing.  Which is (very slightly) watered down royal icing.  You want to make it so that it runs off your spoon in a string.  This is thin, and spreadable.  If you add water, we are talking drop by drop.  You don't want a full-on liquid.

Start with the base.  The body color of the car comes before the lights on the headlights.  So do the base color and use a toothpick or a fork or something pointy to help the icing spread into the edges of your design.  Make sure that it's thick enough, meets all the edges and when you see bubbles, pop them ASAP with a sharp toothpick.

Then move onto the rest.  Same step.

Step 6: Keep Layering.

You know that the white doesn't touch the red, so that makes it okay to put on next, without the red being completely dry.  BUT, you don't want to shake it because the red is already drying and you could screw it up.  Just be gentle when you rotate them.

At this point, you can also do the tires because the borders have been drying overnight.

Perhaps, now that you have a windshield, car body, and tires to dry, you leave it overnight again.  Then you can put the final details on last.

From that point, I would leave them to dry again, overnight because if you package them, you don't want your highest/tallest icing to smash.

Step 7: Removing Them From the Sheets.

After you're sure they've dried long enough, you can remove them from the wax paper.

Be careful because these are brittle.  They are basically icing wafers.

Cut each side of the wax paper to free the sheet from the backboard.  Later on, you can remove the tape and save the cut outs, like I did.  They are in a big ziplock bag for future use! :)

So, you have your sheet freed from the board.  Slide it to the edge of the table and SLOWLY and GENTLY pull the wax paper down.  The edge of the table will help give you a clean-free-edge for removal.  Take a look at the pics to see what I'm talking about.  :)

As you free them, you can put them onto some paper towels because the icing is dry is the paper towel.  Safe!

Step 8: Apply Them!

If you're decorating a cake, you can stand these guys up and make characters, or have a race track with each of the characters in staggered positions... the possibilies are endless.

You can lay the design down on top of the icing.  (Just make sure it's not too damp because the black may bleed a little.)  For safest bet, let the icing dry and maybe use some piping gel, just a dab, on the back of your royal icing transfer, to adhere it to the top of your cake.  

You can make super-sized images, super tiny can make them ahead of time and save them to decorate with later.  (If you do this - make sure to use a recipe that doesn't contain eggs...use one with meringue powder because it has safer staying-power.)

After I sent my husband to work with the HTTP Cookies, a coworker wanted me to make these for her son's 3rd birthday.  :D

Hope you guys enjoy!! And if you make transfers, please post them so I can see.  I tried doing lots of research on how to best do this, months ago, and I didn't find all that much - so I would love to see what you guys can add to it!! <3

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    7 Discussions


    6 years ago

    wonderful cookie and cupcake toppers


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! Would you mind sharing your royal icing recipe for your transfers?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love this! I love that you're not using piping bags...very creative with the squeeze bottles!!!! Also, I have done this before (you can see the writing on my instructable for my son's Sonic Cake) and use this technique when writing the text onto cakes sometimes. But I've only used candy melts for that. Good to know there is another method that may be easier! :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    WOW! I have head about royal icing transferred but never really could wrap my head around it. Your instructable is fantastic and really makes me feel I could do this myself! VERY nice job!

    Dusk Shadows
    Dusk Shadows

    8 years ago on Introduction

    that is a lot of lightning McQueen's that would be an interesting race=)