From inspiration to creation – My design process

Candice from Candy Koated Design Studio visited me a while ago. She took the most amazing photographs of me, my cakes, and my design process. She is the one responsible for my new kick ass branding and website too! Talented much? And see that amazing arrangement from my other bestie? Travis from Calyx Floral Design is incredible! Both of these ladies are so inspiring and I am so thankful to have them in my life!

Behind the Scenes Cake Shoot

A lot of care and attention goes into designing a custom cake for an event, especially a wedding! Crafting the perfect cake design takes time. It takes a lot of thought, and sometimes handfuls of sketches and drawings before it is exact.


When I am designing a cake, I love to pull inspiration from different aspects of your wedding, such as your wedding dress, flowers, invitation, and decor. Some of my favourite wedding cakes have been inspired by the bride’s gown. The loose flowing fabric, beading details and lace features all transform into beautiful cakes. I like to sit down with my sketch book, freshly sharpened pencil crayons (I mean is there anything better?!?) and a cup of coffee. Or wine. I do my best work with a glass of wine. I also think I would do my best work on the beach in Mexico…a theory I would like to put to the test next winter!

Behind the Scenes Cake Shoot


The first step in designing a cake is to determine the number of cake servings needed and draw out the cake tiers. I think about what shape of cakes would work best: round, square, petal, hexagon, etc. I can use a variety of cake shapes as well! Rounds sit so perfectly on top of a hexagon tier, and a petal tier adds so much dimension in between two round tiers. Would a 2 tier be enough, or should we add a 3rd? Will an 8″ round be large enough to include all of the 3D decorations, or do we need a 10″ round?  I also play around with double barrel cakes (twice as high), or half tiers to break up the uniformity of the tiers through the cake.

I think about the shape of the overall cake as well. A 3 tier cake using 14″, 10″ and 6″ rounds will look much shorter and fatter than a 3 tier using 8″, 6″, and 4″ rounds. If you don’t necessarily need 200 servings of cake, but you would still like the impact of a large 5 tier cake, I can use styrofoam cake tiers instead!

Serving guide


Once I know what shape and size of cake I’ll be making, I can start playing with the design. My design process is customer focused. I want to create a design specifically with you in mind. Picking out cake designs on Pinterest to send to me is a great way to share your style and let me know what cake designs you are drawn to. However, I won’t copy another cake artist’s work, not only because I respect their work and their art, but because I don’t want you to have somebody else’s wedding cake on your big day! Your cake should be yours, and yours alone!

Behind the Scenes Cake Shoot


Choosing different edible mediums becomes another part of the process. Will the cake be displayed outside in the heat, or kept cool inside? Is it being transported 500 km away? Does fondant or buttercream work better for your cake design? Would edible flowers made out of gum paste or wafer paper or chocolate or gelatin be better options? If you are wanting metallic decor added should I use lustre dust, edible gold leaf, edible gold paint, or airbrush color? Do you want the floral pattern done in royal icing, hand painted, or done using fondant? These are all questions I consider when designing your cake. Each choice will change the aesthetic of the design.

Behind the Scenes Cake Shoot


Sugar flowers play a huge role in most wedding cake designs. I always recommend using edible, hand crafted sugar flowers rather than real, or silk flowers. Real flowers can be used on your cake, but special attention must be given to the handling and preparation before they can be added! Sugar flowers can be custom made to exactly fit your vision. They don’t need to be in season, you don’t need to worry about them wilting and dying on your cake, you don’t need to worry about pesticides or whether the flower is poisonous. Sugar flowers can be made in any color, in any size, and are completely food safe! They can even be kept after your wedding, they will never die! And unlike silk flowers that are made in a factory who knows where, with who knows what kinds of sanitary practices, sugar flowers are made in a food safe environment.

I craft each of my sugar flowers by hand. Each petal must be rolled, cut, veined, thinned, shaped and dusted. Some flowers can be made in minutes, where others take hours and hours to complete a single bloom.

I can talk a lot, and I mean a LOT, about why I use sugar flowers, but that is for a different post!

Sugar flower


Once I actually start creating your cake, I use the sketch as a basic guideline. Sometimes once I see the cake coming together, I change elements on the cake to better fit the design. Moving a sugar flower bouquet to the other side of the cake, or changing the thickness of a border are all things that happen in the moment. While I’m great at visualizing the cake in 3D from my sketch, I can perfect the design once I’m working on it.

Red Deer Wedding Cake Design - Sugar by Tracy

For example, this particular cake design had a bas relief texture tier, which I drew out on the second tier only. But once I started working on the cake, flooding the texture onto the tiers above and below it was much prettier than abruptly stopping the texture like I had first envisioned.

Have I ever told you how much I love texture? We are having a huge love affair right now.

Red Deer Wedding Cake Design - Sugar by Tracy - Bas Relief

Designing your cake is one of my favourite parts of our time together as bridal couple and cake artist.

But the best part? Seeing your reaction when you walk into your reception and see your cake! Bringing your vision to life, and creating a bespoke cake for your special day is such an honor. I am so thankful to each and every one of my customers for asking me into their lives, to be a part of their wedding, or birthday, or anniversary, or baby shower. Every celebration deserves a spectacular and delicious cake to commemorate the occasion!

Red Deer Wedding Cake Design - Sugar by Tracy

Photo by Raelene Schulmeister Photography

Are you interested in having a custom cake at your next event? Let’s chat!

  1. Travis

    March 21st, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Love it! Can’t wait until you get to design my wedding cake!!!

  2. Sugar by Tracy

    March 21st, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Can’t wait!

  3. Beckie

    March 21st, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Wow!! I loved this post. You’re clients are sure lucky to have someone as creative and thoughtful as you. I love reading your blog!

  4. Sugar by Tracy

    March 21st, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks Beckie! Writing a blog is pretty new to me, so I’m glad someone is reading it haha!!

  5. Grace

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Awesome!! I love seeing the creative process behind different creatives jobs! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:43 pm


  7. Jen

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Stunning! I love seeing your sketches and hearing the process behind designing cakes. I’m a sucker for details, so I’m hooked on your designs. You are unbelievably talented 🙂

  8. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you so much!

  9. Candy

    March 22nd, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Its like I just got a little sneak peek into your head… and I liked it! 😉

  10. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    It’s much more fun the further in you go 😂

  11. Nikki

    March 22nd, 2017 at 8:22 am

    This is amazing! I love hearing about your process and there were so many elements you included that I had no idea about! The passion you bring to your craft is tremendous Tracy!!

  12. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for appreciating the work ❤

  13. Sarah

    March 22nd, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Wow! Your work is stunning!

  14. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you!

  15. Kaycee

    March 22nd, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    What an amazing amount of work that goes into making a wedding cake ! My mind is blown!

  16. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    The fun part is actually making it! That’s next 😉

  17. Raelene

    March 23rd, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I almost can’t put into words how much I loved watching you dream up this cake in the photos!! The brides that are working with you must be in awe at how well you can bring their ideas and visions and themes to life with your own original spin on them! I’m constantly amazed with how your design process works and I LOVE that you’ve let the world into that part of your process!!! ❤️

  18. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you! And thanks for the push to start blogging – I really enjoy it!

  19. Kayla

    March 23rd, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Great post! You are seriously so talented and I love every single one of your cakes. I also saved the little dog you created for my wedding cake, it’s a perfect memento of our day.

  20. Sugar by Tracy

    March 23rd, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Oh I love that you’ve kept him❤ Thanks!!!

  21. Erin

    March 30th, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Nice to see how your creative process works.

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