Transferring Patterns Using Color Flow

November 5th, 2010 by Susan Brisbois

Color Flow is such a fun and easy medium to work with. It is so versatile. One of my favorite uses is to make detailed icing decorations you let dry and harden before positioning on your cake, pie or cookies. You can “draw” almost any design using this special icing.

Transferring a pattern using color flow is easier than you might think. First, find the picture you want to use and tape it to a sturdy board. In this example I have used a 10” cake circle. Tape the picture to the board and then cover the picture with wax paper or parchment paper. Tape it securely in place. There should not be any wrinkles in the picture or the wax paper.

Color Flow Recipe

  • 1 lb. sifted pure cane confectioner’s sugar (or 500 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons Wilton Color Flow Mix
  • 1/4 cup plus tsp, water

Using an electric mixer, blend all ingredients on low speed for 7 minutes. You may tint color flow using Wilton icing colors to whatever shade you desire.

Color Flow Step 1


  • Color Flow should be treated the same as Royal Icing. Everything should be clean and grease-free. You can also use Meringue Powder if you do not have Wilton Color Flow Mix, but I find the finished piece is not as strong and does not leave a nice shine to the decoration.
  • Color Flow must be kept covered at all times when you are working with it. Store any leftover Color Flow in a grease-free plastic container, cover with plastic wrap, then the lid. This will keep it from drying out. It does not need to be refrigerated. It will keep for up to 2 weeks, but must always be re-beaten before using.

After the paper is in place, I use full strength Color Flow Mix to outline each section of the picture. You may need to tint only 1 or 2 colors, as I have done in this picture of the Rose, or you may need a lot of colors. For my tinted icing, I always use Wilton disposable bags with a coupler and a tip. It’s easy to use and just toss when you are finished. I have tinted the leaves green and the Rose an orange shade. The full strength Color Flow Mix should be applied and then left to dry for at least an hour.

Color Flow Step 2

Now you are ready to do the fill-in. Put enough full strength Color Flow in a plastic bowl and gradually add enough water to thin it down. I add 1/4 teaspoon at a time and slowly mix it into the Color Flow with a spatula. Stir slowly in a figure 8 motion so that you do not incorporate a lot of air into the mix.

Test by dropping a small amount back into the mix off of your spatula creating a ribbon of icing. When it takes a full count of 10 for the icing to sink back into the mixture and disappear completely, the icing is ready to use. For this step I use parchment bags. Only fill the parchment bag 1/3 full at a time. Fold over tightly and cut a small portion off of the end to the size of a #2 tip.

Working on one section and one color at a time, fill each cavity using a back and forth motion like you were coloring in a coloring book. I use a hat pin or toothpick to drag the icing into tight spots. Do some test puddles on the same piece of parchment paper next to your work piece. These will be able to help you determine when the piece is dry enough to lift off of the paper.

Color Flow Step 3

Your Color Flow should be left to dry at least 2 days or longer, depending on where you live. When you are ready to remove it from the wax paper, first lift a few of your test puddles to see if they are completely dry. To release the finished piece from the wax paper, first cut all pieces of tape holding it in place. Then carefully lift the wax paper and work piece off of the board. Move your piece to the edge of a counter of worktable and slowly ‘peel’ off of the paper from the underside. I do a small section at a time, while slowly turning the piece.

You are now ready to attach your Color Flow to your cake. If your cake has been in the fridge or frozen, you need to let it come to room temperature before you put the Color Flow piece on your cake. There must not be any condensation on the cake or the piece will break down. Attach to fondant covered cakes or buttercream using small dabs of Color Flow Mix or royal icing.

Color Flow Step 4

Here’s my finished cake. I used the test puddles to dress up the sides. Have you tried color flow yet?

Susan Brisbois Susan found her passion in cake decorating about 13 years ago. She was approached to be on the Training Team about 10 years ago and has held this position proudly for the last 10 years. Other than her family, nothing gives her more pleasure than creating a beautiful cake for someone’s special occasion. After trying many crafts over the years, pottery, oil painting, jewellery making, this was the one she kept coming back to. Susan lives in Toronto, Canada.

21 Replies

  1. Seu trabalho é lindo,como vc fez essa flor?

  2. Cat says:

    Is Color Flow recommended over royal icing to do the same flower?

  3. Angela says:

    I love colorflow.

  4. Tonia thames says:

    i am a cake decorator but i want 2 learn more always

  5. Connie says:

    The key is to make sure the outline is dry before applying the fill otherwise it will run over.
    Thank you Wilton for the tips! I love these and can always learn something new.

  6. lindseylu says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have been wanting to try this. Ive been doing frozen buttercream transfers, but would like to see how these turn out in comparison.

  7. Marsha says:

    Hi i was wondering if u didn’t have the color flow can this be done with royal icing?

  8. Alicia says:

    Do you HAVE to use parchment triangles when filling in your design? Is there an actual reason why plastic disposable bags won’t work? I find parchment bags a pain; would like to know if anyone just uses plastic bags for outline AND fill-in without any issues?? Thanks.

    • Kathy says:

      I use the regular plastic disposable bags with no problem at all. Wish I had a way to share some of the pictures from the cakes I’ve made with designs in color flow icing.

      • Alicia says:

        Thanks for your input, Kathy. I did my first attempt of using Color Flow over the weekend & I opted with the parchment triangles just to be safe – they actually weren’t as big a pain to use as I thought they would be. I liked the look of the Color Flow very much, but you really have to have it the right consistency for every color you mix & plan to use or it will not perform correctly. Another thing I learned (the hard way), is to not attach the Color Flow image onto a fondant covered cake with gum paste adhesive. Where the liquid glue came in contact with the back of the image, it discolored the image so it was almost stained-looking. Now I’ll make sure to only use royal icing to attach my images to the cakes, any liquid on a Color Flow image is not a good thing!!

    • Arthella says:

      I do not use the parchment bags I use the disposable bags for everything including on transfers. I have never had an issue not even with Royal icing.

  9. Natalia says:

    Color flow is a great product and it is better than royal icing becuse it will dry hader, a bit faster and have a wonderful shine and “pillow-like” effect. If you notice the dots above, they are very rounded. Plain royal icing will not do that, and in my experience it dries with a grainy texture and the colors are not as vibrant as with color flow. I am sad that they don’t teach this wonderfull technique in class anymore, but it is very easy to use and with great results.

  10. Natalia says:

    I find that either plastic or parchment bags work well, but sometimes the plastic bags are a bit too big for the job. I beleive that is why they recoment parchment, because of the color flow’s fast dry rate it is better to work with it in small amounts at a time.

  11. Love receiving the tips and seeing all of the very creative designs.

  12. Linda says:

    Doesn’t color flow taste awful? And if it dries so terribly hard, why would you ever want to use it as cookie icing??

  13. Mary says:

    Although color flow dries hard, it is very thin. It is a sweet, very sweet taste, but is complimented by the butter in sugar cookies or shortbread cookies. The cookie itself is usually thicker than the icing. So this eliminates a hard, crunchy bite. I’m the decorator in a bakery, and I have decorated dozens of cookies with color flow for since December 1. We can’t keep enough of them in stock! They are both beautiful with the vibrant colors and sheen as well as delicious! They are a guaranteed money maker.

  14. couponj says:

    How far in advance can you make color flow projects? Do they “go bad”?

  15. Jessica says:

    Hello, I am making my son’s 5th b-day party in like 2 weeks. I’m an expert when it comes to fondant or gumpaste designs however I now want to try this color flow technique. I have “Meringue Powder” I prepared the mix according to the enclosed instructions BUT I’m soooo scared to make a mistake. I wanted to make pieces for cup cakes and also 2 other bigger pieces for two 10″ cakes as well? please someone help…..:) OH YEAH ONE LAST THING….CAN I PUT A COLOR FLOW PIECE ON THE CUP CAKES LIKE ABOUT 1 HOUR BEFORE THE PARTY BEGINS? WILL IT BLEED?


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