With a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie coming out soon, it seemed like a good time to share this tutorial.
In making custom cake toppers, I get many requests for popular characters. I was able to take photos during the creation of this one. I hope these photos provide insight into the construction method for a complex, detailed character like Leonardo!
Roll a mix of 60 percent fondant and 40 percent gum paste into a large ball. I custom color mine with gel colors to match all the parts of the character I am working on.
Using your hands and a fondant smoother, create a stable torso and neck.
Shape two smaller green balls of fondant to form the legs.
Leonardo will be in a crouching position. Shape one leg as shown in an upward kneeling pose.
The other leg will be shaped into a bent under pose.
Use your tool to create creases in the sides of each leg to give the illusion that they are bent.
Use a toothpick to indent the toes.
Roll out a thin sheet of yellow fondant and use a toothpick to outline the shape of the torso.
Cut out the yellow breast plate and indent the details with a rolling cutter or toothpick.
Attach the breast plate with water or edible glue. Distress some dents with a toothpick.
Color fondant a tan/green for the shell next.
Use your hands and a fondant smoother to create the shell shape.
Use a toothpick to indent the detailed pattern on the turtle shell.
At this point, I measure my wooden support skewer. After the torso is attached to the base, this skewer will be inserted in the torso. I will leave enough length to attach the head. It is important to measure the skewer so the part sticking out the top will go through 2/3 of the character’s head. This holds the head firmly in place. For this measuring process, I place the torso at the edge of my counter and hold the skewer down in front of it until I find the right length.
After holding the skewer up to the torso and measuring, I cut the bottom to the proper length using a wire cutter. Put the skewer to the side for now.
Before securing the torso and legs of the character to my base, I finish a few clothing details. Beige strips are cut and attached with water to the legs.
Brown squares are shaped and defined for the knee pads.
When the torso, legs and shell are ready, decide the best position for them on the base. I use edible glue (made of gum paste and warm water) to secure down the torso and legs. The same glue is then used to firmly attach the shell to the back of the turtle.
At this point, the support skewer is carefully pressed down the center of the torso. You want the position to be as straight as possible.
I shape a head from green fondant/ gum paste mix. By holding it up in front of the skewer, you can determine if the shape and scale are correct. Remember, you want the exposed top of the skewer to be 2/3 the height of the head.
Use your fingers and a toothpick to define the eye area of the head.
I place it in an ice cream scoop as I work on it so the back of the head remains round. Here I have used the toothpick to define and depress a mouth area.
Fit a small piece of white fondant into the mouth shape and use a ball tool to smooth it flush.
Use a toothpick to create the smile line.
Roll a small band of blue fondant for the eye mask. Trim the sides straight with a rolling cutter.
Attach the eye mask with water and use a stick tool to depress the eye areas.
Similar to the mouth, you will fill these areas flush with small pieces of white fondant.
I used the end of a Wilton 5 piping tip to cut out tiny blue eyes.
When working on a character, I print plenty of reference material and compare to it often.
Use a black edible marker to draw the tiny pupils of the eyes ans define the smile line.
Once happy with the face, place it aside to dry. I usually do not attach the head of the character until the last step of the process, generally after letting it harden for 24 hours.
But now, I will turn my attention to the arms and swords of the character. Using 2 toothpicks as internal supports, I form the blue handle of each sword. Then using a circle punch, I create the middle piece of each sword.
Then hand form the blade of each sword as shown.
I decided to push the handles up on the toothpicks during assembly. This left a length of toothpick at the bottom of each sword to work as an anchor.
Moving on to more costume details, I marbled a length of brown fondant and rolled it out.
After trimming it with a rolling cutter, it was attached as a costume detail around the chest and shell of the character.
Next I formed the arms by rolling a ball of green fondant/ gum paste mix.
Hand shape the arm and hold it up to the figure frequently to determine the right length and shape.
I used a small brush handle to depress the muscle shapes in the arm.
Once the arm was attached with edible glue, I poked a small hole where I planned to anchor the sword in place.
Wet the handle of the sword with edible glue at all touch points, and then carefully press it in place and form the hand around it.
Follow the same process with the other hand and sword.
After 24 hours have passed for the body and head to become firm, it’s time to attach the head.Wet the top of the skewer with edible glue on a small brush.
Carefully lower the head onto the skewer until it connects with the neck. (I use a toothpick to pre-mark the center point on the bottom of the head before starting this process.It helps me to lower it on straight.)
The fondant cake topper should be allowed to dry in a cool, dark place for 4 days minimum before transport. I deliver them in a small cake box lined with a slip mat.
This topper was customized with name letters made from Tappits and a number made from a cookie cutter. I hope the photos of the process were helpful. Please post any questions below.