Saturday, 5 July 2014

How to make royal icing eyes for Anna from Frozen and other Disney Princesses

Plateful of Disney princess decorated cookies, Cinderella, Elsa, Snow White, Tinkerbell, Ariel, cookies and photo by Honeycat Cookies

I've been meaning to make some more eyes for ages. I use these for most of my character faces as it makes life a lot easier to have a ready made eye around which you pipe the face. If you have some spare white, black and blue/brown icing it's worth making some to store away for future use.

This tutorial shows you how to make the almond shape eyes I've been using lately for a variety of Frozen characters (see the video below of Anna's face being made), but it's worth making a few round ones too, and making a variety of different sizes.

What you'll need:

1. A sheet of acetate (like that used for overhead projectors). It's nice and clear so you can trace the image underneath, lies really flat, and the RI pieces just lift off really easily afterwards. (It's a little less flexible for very delicate pieces where you might want to bend the paper away from the back of the piece, eg over the edge of a table).

2. A printout of dashes of the length you want your eyes' width to be. These ones are approximately half a centimetre long. The first time I made these eyes I just made them 'by eye', and the size varied gradually across the whole sheet. Which was fine. Until I had to start sorting them out and matching up pairs...

3. White, black and iris coloured icing. I've used up nearly all my blue eyes, and barely any brown. Whether that says something about Disney characters that are most requested by customers or not I don't know! The icing needs to be really quite thick to avoid cratering. As thick as you can make it and still jiggle it into smoothing over with a scribe tool. I've not used tips here, but if you do, PME 1.5 will do nicely.

4. A scribe tool for jiggling.

5. Either a dehydrator, heat gun, fan, dry climate, or good luck to avoid cratering.

Equipment needed to make royal icing eyes, by Honeycat Cookies


Tape down your printout of dashes onto a surface that you can lift and place in front of a fan or lay in a dehydrator (I taped mine directly to the dehydrator tray). Lay (or tape) the acetate on top.

With your white icing, pipe along the line and a curve above to form a semicircle (pic no. 1 below). With the blue icing immediately pipe a round blob into the centre of the semicircle (pic no. 2). You can see this slightly distorts the shape of the semicircle but this doesn't matter as you will be shaping the face around and over the edges of the eyes when they're used.

Immediately pipe a smaller blob of black into the centre of the blue (pic no. 3). Now you'll find the eye is heaping up and starting to be quite tall and googly. This is where you need to take your scribe and stab the centre of the eye with it. Carefully - this is a surgical procedure not a revenge attack. Very gently jiggle it on the spot - no wiggling, just jiggling. You don't want to mix the colours, just settle them down so the eye smooths over and becomes a dome. So an up and down movement (technically known as the jiggle) is preferable to a round or side to side movement (the wiggle).

Finally, pipe a tiny little white dot, offset to top right of the black circle. This forms the 'reflection' giving the eye a little more realism.

Four stages of piping royal icing eyes using a template, by Honeycat Cookies

Now you have to get your eyes into a dehydrator or in front of a fan to reduce cratering. Which means you have to decide how many you can pipe and still get away with it. I piped a whole sheet of these and found the first few rows all cratered. Still salvageable as it was just the black centres that sunk, and it's not too obvious. I probably had my black icing too thin as well.

And here's the finished product in use, making Anna from Frozen's face (I use the same technique in my Elsa tutorial and video but with a new nose!)