I have done a lot of reading on CC and online about 1. working with buttercream and fondant, 2. how to structure D cakes, and 3. how to make 3D cakes.
I would like to do something different for a family member soon but I would feel more confident with even more research about the three above topics. For example, I haven't worked with fondant alot so I wouldn't know what to look for if the fondant seemed to dried out or was about to crack, or what are the rules of properly structuring 3D cakes and what are the starting points of making 3D cakes? (I have more questions of course!)
Does anyone have some good books or some other types of resources that they recommend pertaining to such topics?
My local Hobbie Lobby has several great books from Wilton on these topics right where you purchase other caking items (pans, liners, etc).
The best that I can tell you on first starting 3D cakes is ... like everything else ... practice as much as you can. Practice everything. Practice carving (you need a sturdy, dense cake to carve.) When you carve, shave small pieces at a time. You can always go back to carve, but you can't put back once carved. Practice making 3D figures, animals, object, etc. You will find that most of the parts are individually made then pieced together. As for fondant, if my fondant cracks once placed, if I can I try to seal it with a little icing sugar and water, then rub gently in a circular motion over the crack. It takes time to get the hang of everything. I am no master, for I am still learning myself. And most importantly be patient. You are going to make mistakes, that is why practicing a lot is so important. Also, have a vision in your mind what you want the cake to look like and work toward that vision. You may have to alter your vision a little, but try not to stray too far from it. And remember, the cake is also going to do it's own thing. Stay focused on your vision, and don't stop working till you can say ... "I have done my best with it, and now I am done." I hope this is of some help to you. It is what works for me. Bless!
I think it takes trial and error, and practice. If you're not comfortable with fondant, I might start there, before moving on to covering unusual shapes. And, I think the best advice I ever heard was that no decorator makes a perfect cake, but good decorators can hide any flaws. So, pick a simple 3d cake to start with, and incorporate design elements that would be easy to use to cover any mistakes. Sorry that I don't have any books to refer you to, I'm completely self taught...
There are great tutorials on here and the web that you can find for 3d cakes...find one you like, and try it! Good luck!