I'm no character cookie veteran, so it always makes me cringe a little when I get an order for them. But I have learned one thing, you've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette. What I mean is, it's going to look terrible before it looks good.
Exhibit A: Real Mermaid of Orange County
You've seen her at South Coast Plaza or down at Newport Beach; the heavy eye makeup, the weirdly drawn in eyebrows, the blown out lips. It's a little unnatural and off putting. It's a character cookie before its "skin" has been filled in, and it makes me nervous EVERY TIME.
I've figured out that I need to use a number 2 tip to out line the facial features because the skin tone is going to "eat" into my drawing on either side of the linework, making the lines much smaller and finer (sometimes disappearing all together because my icing consistency is off just a hair and too runny - grrr...).
Next step is the fun one as the character finally starts to look like her old self. I go in and fill with a gooey (not runny) icing consistency, using a number 1 tip to help me keep definition in the smaller areas. I start in the largest area and work towards the small delicate spaces. In this case, I started with the chest and shoulders, up the neck and then sloooowly and carefully around the facial features. I try not to ice right up to the features because I know the icing is going to settle and touch them on its own. If I piped it right up to the mouth, I might lose the entire top lip (as you can see I lost a lot of my black eye outline). I don't, however, want any gaps so I might work the icing to touch my outlines with a toothpick if they need some coaxing.
This part I haven't perfected either, but I think a little bit of detailing (chin line, nose, shoulder) helps bring her to life. And there you have it. My take on character cookies. With more practice, they can only get better!