I was asked to do a graduation cake round 3 tiered marbled cake with purple and teal as the colors with gold pearls. The top tier will be a cake covered in fondant to look like a graduation cap. The second tier with buttercream and the girls name bottom tier piped with roses or rosettes (1 m tip) . The picture she sent as a reference isn't very good. The overall design and layout is way off and I'm not sure how to approach some of the elements and colors.
I'm by no means a pro but my approach to this was to sketch out a few drawings of cakes and having them pick the one they like. I want it to be clean and elegant but I'm worried it will look tacky if they want it just like the reference picture.
How do you handle custom cakes with no so great reference pictures? Giving them what they want but still being proud to put your name on it :)
I'd sketch your ideas around the picture and tell them any concerns. See what agreement you can come to. I'm doing a christening cake at the end of the month and the lady wants a certain cake with cascading flowers but block letters but I think the blocks will ruin the flow of the cake. I'm seeing her next week to discuss and have done rough drawings. ( I'm no expert either)
Sometimes people ask you to make ugly cakes. They are paying you (in your case, they will one day pay you) to make exactly what THEY want. You can make suggestions but if they want ugly you give them ugly. Not every cake is going to be post worthy, but as long as you get paid you just smile and cash the check. It especially sucks for you because you're trying to build your portfolio, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Agree with Pastrybaglady, I've made orders for folks that wanted certain color combinations even though I knew it would be a problem. I've sometimes been able to change the design a bit so that I can use the odd color as an accent throughout the cake instead of one of the main colors and that's gotten me good results.
I did a graduation cake that was roughly the same as yours - you can bake the bottom half of the graduation cap in a half dome pan (I think they have these at Michael's and also online) and then make the top of the cap in gumpaste and let that dry for a few days. Add a tassel to the cap and have it sit on the half dome and you're done with that tier.
When people give me a reference picture, I use it exactly as that, a reference. Unless someone tells me to make it exactly like the picture, I always add my own creativity to it.
I think the purple and teal may be the school colors? I wound up with black and orange for mine and needed to make sure it didn't wind up looking like a Halloween cake :)
Thanks everyone!!! My husband and I have an idea of what we are going to sketch for her. I think we'll suggest doing teal ribbon around the tiers with purple roses close to the same design she sent me as the border and then use edible gold pearls in between the flowers and also to border the bottom of the cap. Basically making both colors accents rather than the whole cake being purple or teal. I still don't like it at least not in my head lol but it's not about what we want it's about making a cake to their liking and being proud of it.
And yes pastrybaglady it is tough trying to build up our portfolio but it's worth the challenge and who knows we might put out an amazing cake bc of it. My husband said the color scheme reminded him of the joker haha so my top priority is to avoid it turning out like that :)
Also I'm pretty sure she'll understand our reasoning for making some changes as she has liked a lot of our other work and she was over the moon with the Easter sugar cookies I did for her. I'm hoping they expect a better cake than the photo provided lol.
Too funny if they want ugly give them ugly is it wrong to tell them not to say we made it haha???