Sculpted Fish Cake Tutorial

sculpted fish cake tutorial

This sculpted fish cake tutorial by Gilles Leblanc of Les Gâteaux de Gilles shows you step-by-step how to construct a fish beginning by creating the structure, shaping rice krispie treats, carving the cake, covering the fish and airbrushing the details.

I would like to thank Terri and Cake Decorating Corner for inviting me to do a tutorial.

As a cake decorator, I decorate a new cake each time. It is not created as I was in a production and repeating the same cake over and over again. This makes it interesting, as I have to figure out all the details of the cake and how I am going to build and decorate it. It's a new challenge each time and with each challenge comes difficulty and error. Sometimes I wonder if I should just do a regular cake instead of embarking on these adventures.


Sculpted Fish Cake Supplies

metal flange
metal pipe
wood board
rice krispie treats
buttercream icing 
dense cake of your choice
rolling pin
pastry cutter
shaping tool
2 Styrofoam balls
tylose powder
gum paste
airbrush system
blue and red airbrush color
ball tool
round cutter
egg crate 
melted chocolate
piping gel
cookie crumbs


1. The first step is finding inspiration. I find a lot of mine over the internet. These days, I am often looking for kid's and funny theme cakes, as I often do cakes for a charity that provides cake for kids that are in foster care.

For this one, I found this funny looking fish from a coloring book.

Doesn’t he look goofy?

I print this image to the size of cake desired.

fish cartoon

2. So I need to figure the structure system. This one is simple - some metal flange and a piece of metal pipe on a cake board and a small cake board cut to the size of the fish. You will see on the drawing how I figure the size of the board and the height of the metal pipe.

fish cake support system

3. I have covered the cake board that will receive the cake with some vinyl.

Then I filled the bottom with some rice krispie treats to get the bottom shape of the fish.

forming rice krispie cake base

Yumm. Vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream.

4. Always use a dense cake for carving. If it is too soft, it will only crumble and it will give you a hard time when icing and covering it. Also use buttercream made only with butter and no shortening. You want it to be firm after you put it in the fridge.

frosting cake layers

5. As you can see, I am setting the cake board upside down on top of the cake.

This will make it easier to carve the first part.

sculpting the fish cake

6. Make yourself another template of the cake board with the measurements of the outside of the fish. This will tell you what you have to remove from the cake.

carving fish cake body

7. Just cut the shape of your template. Then put it in the fridge to firm the buttercream and make it easier to handle the cake.

carved fish body

8. Finish cutting the shape of the fish, verifying the dimension of the image that you have printed out to the size. This one is not so bad. It could almost be a football.

cake top sculpted

9. I love to crumb coat the cake, giving it a nice thick coat to start and then putting it back in the fridge to firm up. As you can see, I even crumb coated the rice krispies.

crumb coated fish cake

10. Give a second coat of buttercream with a small smoother made out of plastic sheet to create a more even coating.

creating a smooth cake surface

11. It might need a few passes with the buttercream to get a nice even coating. Then look at your drawing and create some accents with the buttercream.

creating buttercream fish features

fondant fish eyes

12. While the cake is in the fridge for a good firming up, let's do the eyes.

For the eyes, I will be using some small Styrofoam balls that I will cover with gum paste.

Roll some gum paste to about 1/8 of an inch. Find a round cutter that is about the same size as the ball and cut two circles. I find that when covering the Styrofoam ball, it is easier to do it one half at a time instead of trying to cover them in one shot. Cover one half and pull the gum paste to reach about the half of the ball just by tapping it with your finger. Do not hesitate to use corn flour if your fingers get sticky. Then do the same for the other side. You could play with the seam to close it and then gently roll it in your hand. Do not put too much pressure as you will stretch the gum paste and it will detach from the ball.

13. Let's roll some fondant. I usually roll enough fondant to cover from one side to the other.

rolling blue fondant

14. Apply the fondant and cut the extra that is over hanging. I did not take a picture of this one since I had to cut and smooth it. Do not worry about the seam showing. We will deal with them after.

covering fish cake with fondant

15. Cut some small pieces of fondant to cover the rest of the fish.

joining fondant seams

16. Fondant will absorb shortening so it works well to make a seam disappear. Go gently and don't use too much or apply too much pressure. It's important to have a firm cake when doing this step.

how to fix a fondant seam

17. I finish it with some cornstarch to dry it up.

18. Let's add some detail. This cake does not have too much detail.

Roll some fondant and flatten it on one side. Then apply it to the cake using a bit of water.

Don't use too much; you want it to stick not slide.

forming fondant fish mouth

19. Using your shaping tool, you can smooth out the joint and add the detail.


shaping fondant fish mouth

20. So now I've got it the way I want. Do not worry if it takes time and even if you have to do it again. It is part of having a new shape to do and we learn each time.

fondant fish mouth

21. I shape the eye socket so I do not have any problem when attaching the eyes.

fondant fish eye sockets

22. I add some more details that need to be done.

fondant fish gills

23. Then the cake goes back to the fridge while we make the fins. Take some fondant and add some tylose to it. How much tylose depends on how soft your fondant is and how well you are used to working with it. I add some to mine until I get a nice firmness on the fondant without having it snap when I pull on it.

adding tylose to fondant

24. Looking at the drawing, I measure the approximate size of the fins. Then I cut them freehand and I insert a bamboo skewer in them. Smooth the edge out and ad some detail. Repeat the same for the back fins and the tail.

fondant fish fins

25. Let's make some algae. For these, I am using some gum paste colored in green.

I cut them freehand and add some detail. Then I insert a flower wire in the bottom part of them so that I could put them on the board. I also glued some of them back to back at the bottom giving me more volume.

fondant algae

26. When the fins are dried (usually the next day), I attach them to the fish using some melted chocolate.

attaching fins with chocolateattaching fondant fins to fish cake

27. Using some fondant, I cover the seam of the fins and tail and smooth them out.

covering seams with fondant

28. Airbrush: For the finishing color of the fish, I decided to airbrush it with two different colors.

airbrushed fish cake

29. Attach the eyes with some melted chocolate and then make the eye lid. For this I used a circle cutter that is bigger that the eye. Then cut the circle in half and attach it to the eye. Smooth the seam to the fish and paint the eye lid with the same color as the fish with a paint brush.

attaching fish eyes to cake

30. Paint the iris in the eye and that is it. Your fish is done.

Now decorate the board.

For this one, I used a black ribbon that glued to the edge of the board.

Cover the board with piping gel and cookie crumb.

Then making some small holes, I attached the algae to the board, stabilizing them with some rocks made out of fondant. I cover the bottom flange with the same fondant as the rock.


completed fish cake

Gilles Le Blanc

I rediscovered the pleasure of baking and decorating cake about 3 years ago. There was always that passion within me. I remember decorating cakes with marzipan and painted royal icing about 40 years ago.

Life has led me to experience different fields of work, but sculpting remained my main passion.  The need to provide for my family gave me the opportunity to orient myself where that option was given, from silversmith, to marble work, and even designer.   All of it was so interesting and opened up doors of knowledge.  Now retired, I rediscover the passion of sculpting and modeling through cake.

I do have a preference to make fantasy cakes rather than just the regular round or square cakes.

Based in Saint-Bruno de Montarville, on the south shore of Montreal, I find inspiration in everything that I see.  Everywhere there is a shape or a form that attracts my eyes. Movement and emotion also bring me a lot of inspiration.

Feel free to ask me any question on my Facebook page Les Gâteaux de Gilles.


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