I enjoy decorating sugar cookies, but I’m not a good artist. I can’t draw at all. In fact, when I draw things, I usually have to label them so other people know what I’ve drawn. To get around this obstacle, I frequently opt for tracing and using royal icing transfers. Sometimes, I’ve even asked my sister, who is an amazing artist, to draw some designs for me and then I just copy them.
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Tracing Projector App
I’ve wanted to use a Kopykake for a long time to address this problem, except they are really expensive and bulky. I recently discovered the Tracing Projector app, which is a much more economical tracing option1.
This app superimposes the picture/image you would like to draw onto the drawing surface (in my case, the cookie). The image is only visible when you look through your device screen and it is not projected onto the cookie. You can get a free version of the app, but it only allows for two minutes of tracing before your image disappears. I tried to use the free version when decorating my cookies, but it was a huge pain because I had to realign the image with my previously completed work every 2 minutes. It’s a fairly inexpensive app, especially when compared to the Kopykake, so I would highly suggest paying for the “Full Functionality” option, which allows for unlimited tracing (i.e., it removes the 2-minute limit). It cost $2.99 when I purchased it.
How to use the app:
After you’ve installed the app2, follow the steps below to use it for tracing:
- Hit the “New Photo” button to use the camera on your device to take a picture of the image you want to trace. You can also use any image that you already have on the device by choosing the “Camera Roll” button.
- Be ready to hold the device steady. You can hold it in your hand, or you can stack up a bunch of books/set up a tripod to hold the device in one position while tracing. Make sure that the height of the device is at a comfortable height, so you don’t have to strain to look through the device.
- Also, make sure that you are tracing in an area with a lot of light. The app doesn’t work as well in low lighting.
- Notice that when you look at the device screen, that the chosen image is superimposed onto anything that is behind the phone.
- Adjust the picture to fit your drawing surface (e.g., dragging the image using one finger or using two fingers to stretch, pinch, or rotate the image).
- Once the image is set, lock the camera view by hitting the “hand” button. You will still be able to zoom in and out, but the image will be “locked” onto the background.
- Another feature that I used while tracing was the transparency slider (i.e., “circle” button). This changes the transparency of the tracing image so that you can see both the tracing image and the background while tracing. Drag the circle to the left to make the image more transparent. Drag the circle to the right to make the image more opaque (i.e., you can see through the image less).
Decorating with the app:
There are a number of different ways you can use the app to decorate cookies.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a #1 tip to pipe icing directly onto the cookie. Make sure that the icing is stiff so that it can hold its shape.
- Use a toothpick or a scribe tool to make a faint outline on the cookie that can later be piped on. If using this method, the icing must be completely dry first. If it’s not dry, the toothpick will poke through the icing and mess up the outline.
- Use an edible marker to trace the outline and then color it in using the edible marker or pipe over the outline with royal icing.
With all of these techniques, there is a learning curve. Give yourself time to practice using the app before decorating your cookies (e.g., pipe onto parchment paper, a royal icing transfer, or a spare cookie). The most difficult part for me was to judge the distance between the cookie and my piping bag/toothpick. I also made the mistake of not letting my royal icing dry completely, so I struggled to keep the toothpick at the right height to avoid breaking through the icing. This probably would have been easier if the icing had been completely dry so I could have put more pressure on the cookie.
Initially, I tried to pipe directly onto the cookie, but my designs were very intricate, and I found it easier to make an outline with the toothpick first and then pipe that outline. When I used the piping bag, I also found it helpful to pipe the corners of the design with a small dot of icing and then connect the dots after I moved the cookie out from under my device.
Please leave me a comment down below if you have ever used this app (or anything similar) to decorate. Feel free to share any additional tips and tricks for people using this app!