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Ghost Cupcakes DIY

In today’s post I’m going to show you how to make these fast and easy ghost cupcakes, perfect for Hallowe’en!

The sweet treats can be prepped in advance and top homemade cupcakes or you can pick up store-bought cupcakes and throw the whole thing together last-minute.

I’d seen versions of this style topper on various sites around the internet and put mine together using the features I liked from various ones, plus added my own twist. These and these have fondant over marshmallows but I didn’t like the square look it gave the ghosts. These and these achieve a more rounded look by draping fondant over lollipops, but as my cupcakes were for a party for adults I didn’t think the lollipops would end up eaten. After browsing my local bulk shop I came up with the idea of topping the marshmallows with rounded gumdrop candies.

What you will need for the ghosts:

You can place each ghost in a treat bag and hand out as-is or use them to top homemade or store-bought cake or cupcakes.

Step 1: Assemble your marshmallows, gumdrops and sticks to prepare the ghost bases

Push the lollipop stick up through a marshmallow and halfway into a gumdrop. You can wet the top of the marshmallow first with a thin smear of icing, clear piping gel or light brush of water to help the marshmallow and gumdrop adhere together, however I found that the tackiness on the stick from being shoved through the marshmallow did not make this necessary.

Repeat until you have as many ghost bases as you need, then set them upright by pressing into foam, flower foam, egg cartons, etc…

Roll out your fondant and cut out a circle with your cutter. I topped each gumdrop with a small dollop of icing so the fondant would stick, but you can also use clear piping gel or water. Apply the fondant over the ghost base, centering the circle over the gumdrop and smooth into place. Use your fingers to crease the excess into ghostly folds. Note: don’t apply too much icing/water/gel or the fondant can thin and tear if it gets too wet.

Repeat for each ghost and set them aside in your chosen support so the fondant can set up a bit. If desired prep a cake or cupcakes to be ready for the toppers. I’d baked up some chocolate cupcakes and gave them a thin layer of vanilla icing.

Once the fondant is no longer pliable you can finish off your ghosties by adding black eyes with a black edible marker. You can play around with the eye shape to give them all unique expressions!

Repeat until all your ghosts can see and then set them into your cake/cupcakes (if using). If you are placing them into treat bags to give out as Hallowe’en favors, allow them to air-dry until the fondant sets up.

These were served along with the Paint Nite cake and cookies from my last post, and made for a really fun Hallowe’en party treat table!

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Paint Nite Cake and Cookies

A few years ago I made a dessert for my friend Debbie’s surprise Hallowe’en-themed party. I was given the option to make cookies or a cake, so I chose both! This Paint Nite-inspired cake and cookie set is easy to make and looks way harder than it is!

You can start with a store-bought cake, or bake one yourself and prepare it for decorating with a layer of fondant to look like a tablecloth. I used white so the rest would stand out but you could use any color.

To make the easels you will need narrow rectangular cookies. You can bake your own or go the faster route and buy them! I used Cadbury Fingers but any log or stick-shaped cookie will do. You will need candy melts as the “glue” to hold the easel together so just be sure to match the candy melt color to your chosen cookies. Note- you don’t want to use regular chocolate for this as it will soften at room temperature and your easels will fall apart.

First make an A shape with a cookie going horizontally across two others for the easel’s ledge, and then after the candy melts set up use a 4th cookie as the vertical support leg. It’s easy to work this assembly-line style, being sure to leave enough time for the chocolate to set hard. I found that I only had to hold them in place for about a minute before they were able to stand on their own.

Of course any Paint Nite needs something to paint on! You can bake cookies yourself or use any rectangular cookie that has at least one flat side, like Biscoff, butter biscuits or shortbreads.

To make edible “paint” mix icing sugar with small amounts of water until you get a loose icing consistency. Paint Nite projects often have a gradient background with a silhouette design on top, so I used that style for my mini paintings. I chose Fall colors with pumpkin orange and white for a sunset and as this was a Hallowe’en party I added a black cat on a fence silhouette and full moon. This also worked well with the Paint Nite habit of using few colors in beginner paintings.

I painted the cookies much as you would at an actual Paint Nite – first painting the gradient background, then once dry adding the top layer.

The fun part was making each one just slightly different, while still being the same image – exactly how the results at a true Paint Nite would be. Everyone follows the same process and comes out with mostly the same image yet they’re all slightly unique to the individual artists.

I also used a few extra cookies to write a message for the birthday girl on her big day.

Of course, every Paint Nite requires supplies, so we need to add the solo cups-as-water cups, Styrofoam plate “palettes” and big orange brushes.

I made all the accessories out of scraps of fondant. For the solo cups simply layer a thin strip of white on top of the red before cutting out a strip to roll into a cup shape. The brushes are narrow rolls of fondant with the brush end dipped into the icing “paint”. The plates are small discs of white fondant smeared with dollops of leftover paint from painting the cookies. To make the “dirty” paint water I swirled a bit of each paint icing into clear piping gel.

Staging the table was super fun! Unlike a real Paint Nite where I try to be as neat as possible, here I got to be messy! I “glued” the fondant accessories in place with a small dab of water and then added drips and splatters of the paint to really sell the “end of the night of crafting” look.

I was so thrilled with how the final cake came out! It was one of the most fun cakes to make and allows for a ton of personalization. All the components can be homemade or store-bought which means this design can work with all budgets, and you can tailor the paintings to match any theme.

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Annual Halloween Roundup

It’s October, so that means it’s time for my annual roundup of costume-related patterns and tutorials available here on the blog.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

Next up (with over 420,000 impressions on Pinterest in the last 60 days alone!) is a similar tutorial, this time for making a Minecraft Enderman head along with a diamond block trick-or-treat box.

Both projects include full charts for game-accurate colors and the exact hex codes for perfect color matching!

If your idea of fantasy is less block-based and more magical, here’s a free knitting pattern for an easy scarf in the Gryffindor house colors.

If training a dragon is more your thing, here’s how to make a viking vest.

If you prefer Pokemon to Night Furies, here’s an easy, last-minute Pikachu costume idea.

If your friends-group themed costume runs more Grease than Greninja, here’s how you can make a super simple Poodle skirt.

If you’re looking to visually upgrade some inexpensive props, here’s a demo on repainting plastic swords.

If you’ve got a last-minute party invite to deal with, here’s a SUPER quick ‘n easy Jughead Jones (from Archie Comics) costume tutorial with free burger dream bubble printable!

If your group costume needs accessories, here’s a free tutorial on making Super Mario Bros Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi hats

If you want to take those Mario Bros costumes one step further, here are instructions on making their respective mustaches

If you REALLY want to go all out, here’s the full costume breakdown with instructions on making an entire Wario costume

Finally, if you’ve got enough knitting time on your hands, you can knit my Baby’s First Superhero Costume pattern as-is with cute designs for boys and girls, or convert the chart and the colors to create your superhero of choice.

Find more tips and tutorials on my How-To page!


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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – As You Wish / Westley and Buttercup Silhouette Roses Spread FO

Today marks The Princess Bride movie’s 35th anniversary!* I wanted to do something special for this final post of The Princess Bride Month so I started and completed a brand new set of pages in The Princess Bride coloring book. Nothing is more iconic than Westley’s famous “as you wish” line, so when I turned the page after my current WIP in the book and saw this double-page spread I knew it would be perfect to close out this month’s theme.

I instantly knew I wanted to put a sunset behind Buttercup and Westley and color their silhouettes in solid black. I wasn’t sure, however, if I wanted to mirror the sunset on the hills and have the lightest shades in the center, or if it would look better with the lightest greens to the front and the darker ones in the back.

I decided to pull a trick from my knitter’s handbook and swatch them! I took a clear image of the page and brought it into the Procreate app on my iPad so I could have a digital version to work with. Using the Apple pencil I roughly blocked in the black silhouettes and a quick sunset. I knew I wanted the bushes on the horizon to be dark as they would be backlit, so scribbled those in too. Then I copied the image so I’d have two to work from, and colored in the hills on each, reversing the color order. I quickly preferred the version on the left, so saved it as my reference sketch.

I’d also had the idea of possibly filling in the entire background of the roses page, so decided to test that too. I’m so glad I did as it would have been a TON of work and I really didn’t like the results. I’d also debated outlining the roses in gold and playing with the digital version allowed me to see that I DID like that, all without touching the original coloring page.

With the colors chosen now was the fun part- coloring the page! The entire double-page spread was colored with 12 Crayola Super Tip markers, 1 black Sharpie and 1 Pen-Touch gold metallic fine point paint pen by Sakura.

I chose 5 colors that would make a good sunset gradient and filled in the sunset first, blending the colors together.

Yes. I BLENDED the Crayola markers together! There will be a post coming up soon sharing the technique on how I did it, so stay tuned!

Once the sunset was in place I colored the horizon bushes. The same tip that allows the water-based markers to blend also allowed me to work multiple layers of marker to scribble leafy impressions into the bushes. I also used the same color on the foreground bushes just behind the couple.

Then, using 5 greens for the hills, I drafted out where each color would meet and then blended them in the same manner as the sky.

The final step for the page’s focal point was to color in Westley and Buttercup, and the remaining bit of foreground. Adding the black really made the other colors POP and I could not be happier with how the page was turning out.

For the roses I started by using the same darkest red as for the sunset, to help tie them together. Every rose was completed in the same manner: first a quick outline over the outer edges of each petal and then filled in the rest with a paler pink marker. The end result, using the aforementioned technique, gives a result similar to that you’d get with alcohol markers, with the red and pink blending together to make a soft gradient.

For the leaves I chose the lightest and darkest of the greens from the hills and worked in a similar way as for the roses- first a quick hit of dark green along the spine and lower edge and then blended it out with a light green to fill in the rest of the leaf.

It was repetitive, but easy, and soon enough all the roses and leaves on both pages were complete.

This was the spread at that point. I quite liked it but it felt a bit unfinished. My initial idea was to color the entire background of the left page in black, but as the lettering is created by the voids between the roses the words would have become black as well and I didn’t really want that.

Thanks to my digital sketch I knew I liked the idea of a gold outline around each rose. It wasn’t quite filigree but gave me similar “gold-edged china teacup” vibes. I have a few sizes of Pen-Touch markers and the fine (1.0mm) point was perfect for this step.

The gold outline was the exact finishing touch it needed. When viewed directly (as the upper right of the page) the outline almost looks like a bolder black, throwing the wording into higher contrast. When viewed from an angle (as in the lower left) the metallic gold really shines and gives the romantic, antique feel I was going for.

To further tie the two pages together I added a gold outline to the circle using the same marker, and then both pages were complete.

I’ve reviewed the quality of this book before but wanted to add one more time what a joy it’s been to work on. This movie has been a family classic since my childhood, with us spending many nights watching it by the fire, and all of us able to recite it nearly by heart. I’ve loved it enough to own the movie

on VHS!

…the book…

Check out that blurb on the back!

…and even the POP figures.

My siblings’ kids even have the baby counting book!

Can you count 6 fingers on the Count’s right hand?

I hadn’t known the coloring book existed so it was a real treat to receive from my brother for Hanukkah a few years ago. Not only does it hit my nostalgic feels but the paper quality is great, the images are a great mix of stills and graphic prints, and it holds up very well to a variety of media and can support mixed media. A very high recommend!

And finally, as the final bonus Princess Bride fact: When the weather was particularly cold, André the Giant would place his giant hand over Robin Wright’s head, covering it entirely and keeping her warm. (Source)

*According to most online sources

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Copyright Page

Another The Princess Bride Coloring Book longstanding work in progress has been completed! Originally blogged about here, this third Princess Bride Month post is actually the second coloring page in the book itself – the Copyright Info page.

As mentioned in the original post, my plan for the page was start at the sun in the center and work downwards.  I used a few shades of yellow for the sun then started with the oranges, using the darkest color from each section as the palest in the next.  So if the first section used colors A and B as ABABAB then the next section was BCBCBC, then CDCDCD, and so on.  I’d planned the gradation deliberately timed so the blues would hit by the waves, then the teals/greens in the water.

This was all worked using the Derwent Inktense water-soluble ink pencils. You can activate the pencils as you complete each section but I love seeing the contrast between the dry and wetted inks so I’d waited until the entire page was colored before beginning to activate them. I use the Derwent water brushes for the larger areas and keep a blender marker in my water kit specifically for small areas that are easier with a marker point. You can use any alcohol marker brand’s colorless blender though I prefer to keep one in my kit solely for use with water-soluble pencils (and not also use it with markers). The one in my kit is Prismacolor colorless blender and I really like that it has both a bullet nib for fine details as well as a chisel tip in case I should need it.

Here is the full image after all the Inktense was activated.

It’s…okay but I wasn’t wowed by it. Rather than leave it be, I decided to put my gel pens to work. I have so many gel pens and they can start to dry out over time, so it was a fun challenge to put them to good use and match all the Inktense colors to my gel pen swatches.

I used the glitter gel pens from the Gelly Roll 6-pc Stardust collection, the larger (13) Stardust set from the Gelly Roll large pack, and the glitter selection from the Shuttle Art assorted gel pen set. Having a large variety helped me to find matching colors for all the Inktense, which was really great.

You can see the sparkly difference in the sun (above) and the waves (below).

Here’s the whole page complete. I only added accent glitter to the shrieking eels, and I didn’t put any on the ship.

Otherwise the entire page is COVERED in glitter and my inner magpie absolutely adores it!

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: Did you know there was almost a very different Fezzik? When the movie was originally planned to be made in the 1970s, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger was interested in playing the role. However by the time the movie was actually made he was too expensive to hire! (Source)

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Ownership Page

Today’s Princess Bride Month post is the ownership page from The Princess Bride Coloring Book. It has the same carved wood and buttercups as the title page, and features an open book where you can write your name.

I’d written about this page previously and detailed how I tried to match my name to the font style of the text on the facing page. I wasn’t very happy with it until I outlined the book’s letters as well, so the two would visually match.

In the end there wasn’t very much left to do on this page to consider it complete. I added a bit of shading with Polychromos colored pencils and then augmented the heart shape of the florals with a soft blue heart background. I wish I’d done it more diffused but it doesn’t bother me enough to change it at this point.

In random other news – yesterday was this blog’s 18th birthday!

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: Did you know the movie is even a hit with the mafia? Per director Rob Reiner: Yeah, I walked outside the restaurant, and John Gotti was there with six wiseguys. There was a guy beside the limo who looked like Luca Brasi. He looked at me, and said: ‘You killed my father … Prepare to die!’ I almost went right then! [Laughter.] He said, ‘I love dat movie, da Princess Bride!’ (Source)

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Title Page

All last month I posted completed coloring pages from my 2019-19-WIP-to-FO Challenge. When I looked through the assortment of pages I’d originally posted to see what was finished, I noticed the cover of The Princess Bride coloring book.

Specifically it was the gold banner in the top corner that caught my eye. 30th anniversary hmmm? I was pretty sure I’d received the book about 4-5 years prior so did a little digging and, sure enough it was 5 years ago, meaning that THIS year will be the 35th anniversary since The Princess Bride movie was released!

The official release date seems to vary, with the majority of sites listing it as September 25th 1987, a few listing October 9th 1987, and one saying October 1st. I’m going to go with the majority on this one and officially designate this September as The Princess Bride month! I’ve got a few long-term WIPs that have finally been finished and will be shared over the month, along with a brand new double-page spread that I completed last month specifically for the 35th anniversary and will have a tutorial to go along with it.

The first of these pages (literally, as it is the first in the book!) is the copy of the title page itself.

Back in 2017 I posted progress pics along with my method for how I’d colored each section. I’d used Derwent Inktense soluble ink pencils for the base layer and then gone over it with Polychromos colored pencils to boost some shadows and add highlights.

I was pretty happy with where I’d left off but decided the page needed a background to properly look complete. I selected 4 shades of green and lightly filled in the page with small sections of each color, being sure to overlap them slightly. I then went in with the Prismacolor Colorless Blender (one of my FAVORITE tools) and blended it out. In the image on the right you can see the left half has been blended but the upper right bit has not.

The background came out exactly as I’d hoped – soft, muted and almost velvety! I’m really pleased with it, and find it gave the page the finished look I was after.

With that, at long last, my very first page from The Princess Bride coloring book was complete. All posts referencing this book can be found via the Coloring page up top, or directly here.

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: The R.O.U.S.s were played by grown men in rat suits! One of them got into a fight with his wife and burned down their kennel, so the film crew bailed him out of jail so he could film the Fire Swamp scene. (Source)

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Grimm Fairy Tales’ Alice in Wonderland FO

Next up in the run of finished coloring pages I tackled for my 19-WIP-to-FO Challenge is from the Grimm Fairy Tales coloring book.

I’d started this page back in 2017(!!) using the cover of the coloring book itself as a reference.

I’d found this 24-pack of Staedtler Colored Pencils at my local dollar store and was curious about how they would compare to more expensive pencils. Would I be able to get good results without paying very much?

As always I swatched the colors first for my swatch book. They’re very soft and muted, and the swatches remind me a lot of the Marco Raffiné colored pencils I reviewed here.

The pencils have hard cores that hold a point well but the color payoff is not very vivid. Even with a lot of pressure they remain desaturated and soft-looking.

Using light layers I was able to build up some color depth but it wasn’t easy.

What I’d said in my previous challenge post about this page:

As the caption states, I wanted to finish this page primarily so I wouldn’t have to use the pencils any longer.

Once the image was complete I found it lacking without a background but didn’t have any inspiration for what to put. In the end I did soft swirls with pink, purple and blue to fill in the white space.

Start date: November 2 2017

Completion date: January 6 2022

Summary: can you get good results with cheap pencils? IMHO, sure. I enjoy using my other pencils more, but if you’re looking for soft colors, hard leads that will hold a point and have a decent assortment of colors, you could do a lot worse than these inexpensive pencils. I wouldn’t recommend them for professional artists but they’d be fine for kids, school or coloring books with small sections that need good points.

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Kerby Rosanes Imagimorphia Eagle Page FO

The third coloring-book-related 19-WIP-to-FO-2019 Challenge update is the “eagle” page from Kerby Rosanes’ Imagimorphia. What I’d said at the time:

At the time I’d done the rainbows and an assortment of small areas with Stabilo 88 and Staedtler Triplus fineliners, then worked the clouds with Neocolor II water-soluble crayons.

I still don’t know why I lost interest. Likely it was because so many fun coloring books had come out around the same time and my attention span was fickle 😉

When I resumed working on it I filled in the remaining areas with the same fineliners as well as my set of Feela double-ended markers that have a brush tip on one end and a fineliner on the other.

I added Inktense water-soluble ink pencils at the end for the background, but clearly had not yet figured out how to apply them without leaving streaks, sigh.

I can’t say I’m super thrilled with the final image, though I am quite happy it’s done.

If I were to start it all over again I’d pick a cohesive color palette with the Color Catalog first. Ignoring the larger picture and working everything as individual motifs gives a rather chaotic look in the end that I don’t think I pulled off well.

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Doodle Fusion Marco Raffiné Test Page & Review

The next 2019 WIP to FO Challenge update (posted a whole 3 years later…sigh) is this page from Doodle Fusion. I love this silly book so much and have completed a bunch of pages from it (unposted), as well as prepped some in my color wash attempts. As they’re all filled with an assortment of wacky monsters it’s hard to come up with a unique name to identify some of the pages so since this one was deliberately done solely with the Marco Raffiné oil-based colored pencils, it’s become known as my test page of such.

I started this Doodle Fusion page on September 8 2019 with the intent of completing an entire page with the Marco Raffinés to really get a feel of how they work and blend.

I really like these pencils! They’re inexpensive (especially compared to the Polychromos or Premiers), and though the different pencils can’t truly be compared as oil-based vs wax-based will give different results and be preferred for different projects by different artists, they have their own unique charm and have been a joy to use. They’re less vibrant than some other brands but are no less pigmented, so while you won’t get neon brights (making them not a good choice for a fun 80s page) they’re great for softer, almost whimsical looks. They’re also slightly water-soluble, as per my tests here.

The first three images below show the lazy progress made over the rest of that month. I’d worked on the page slowly, picking out individual creatures and sections at random depending on my mood at the time.

Posting my WIP-to-FO challenge publicly spurred me to continue working on it, and the fourth picture above was done in January of 2019. I did a bit more work that month and then my attention waned again…

…until October 2020 when I finally picked it back up, determined to finish it once and for all.

I added a fading border to the outer edges in order to test the pencils’ (and my own) shading and fading capabilities. Once that was complete I finished the remaining creatures and doodles.

Overall I think these pencils work wonderfully in this book. It’s a plain-paper coloring book which can make using wet media difficult (although the pictures are one-sided so bleeding won’t be an issue if you protect the subsequent pages with a sheet of cardstock or something. There isn’t a lot of tooth to the page which isn’t the best for colored pencils generally, but these have enough “stick” to really take to the page well. After 2 years the page looks identical to the image above with no bloom (as can happen with wax-based pencils) and no apparent fading.

The only flaw I can see with the Marco Raffinés is the color payout. A number of sections above (ie: the red ball cap, the red 6-legged monster near the middle, the purple creature at the bottom center, the crayon bodies) were colored with maximum pressure to get the darkest, fullest coverage possible. As you can see there are solid, even sections of color but no real “brightness”. To me, all of the colors have a softness to them, even at full strength making them feel almost desaturated. You can see the difference more clearly in my swatches below.

Every time I get new colored pencils I swatch them, labelling the swatches with the color name or number. The oil-based Marco Raffiné pencils (above) are lovely and soft, and very similar in tone to the Faber-Castell Polychromos (below), which are also oil-based.

The Polys have more colors but the feeling of the individual shades is still softer, almost velvety, whereas the wax-based Primsacolor Premier pencils (below) are brighter and more vivid. (Click on any of the swatch images for a better view).

If you’re looking for deep, bright colors then you might be dissatisfied with these…but for anyone else they make a great, inexpensive option to have in your coloring toolkit.

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