“Cars” Cow Tipping Cake


A few months ago novelty cake maker DecoPac, Inc. hired me to help them develop a jumbo “signature” cake to promote the Cars franchise for Disney/Pixar. Because this would be a large, triple-layer cake there was more freedom than usual to do something really fun and appealing.

I started by working up several very rough thumbnail concepts of possible ideas:

(Click to enlarge.)
(Click to enlarge.)

The client liked the “tractor tipping” idea (bottom row, middle). So I worked that up into a detailed color sketch:

"Cars" Cake Concept by Cedric Hohnstadt for DecoPac, Inc.
(Click to enlarge.)

From their DecoPac refined the design and sent it off to the manufacturer. And yes, the “cow tractor” tips over and even makes a “Moo” sound!

Cars-Tractor Tipping ToyYou can also view the final product on the DecoPac website.

Cartoon Vehicles for Spaner Marketing

Recently I was approached by a new client, Spaner Marketing, with an advertising concept for a company called SageQuest. SageQuest uses GPS technology to help delivery drivers, technicians, and other employees who spend time behind the wheel by tracking their locations, vehicle efficiency, etc. The ad tagline was “Talk To Your Trucks”. They asked me to illustrate some cartoon vehicles to go with the ads.

The challenge was to try to avoid something that looked like a knock-off of Pixar’s “Cars” franchise. I thought about using the eyes as headlights but that’s very cliche and it crunches the face down too low on the vehicle. Also, most headlights aren’t round these days so it might look odd on modern vehicles. So here’s a few doodles I submitted playing around with possible ideas:


Eventually the client decided they wanted to float pupils over the hood and use the windshield wipers for eyebrows. To help differentiate from Pixar I also left teeth out of the mouths (except for when it was needed for a big grin), and kept the windshields nice and dark. Here’s the final ads with copy:


Toy Design: Disney-Pixar “Cars”

One of my regular clients is a toy company called DecoPac. Among other things they create many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in the grocery store bakeries. They often develop fun themes using licensed characters to tie in with movie and TV franchises. On occasion they will hire me to develop toy concepts for some of the cakes. They are a terrific client and its a ton of fun.

Artwork copyright © Disney. All rights reserved.

Back in 2008 they hired me to sketch up a “pit stop” idea they had for Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise. Once this concept sketch was approved it left my hands and went to the Disney to be further developed in-house. Because of the realities of overseas manufacturing it can take a year or more from initial concept to final delivery. This project is now completed so I’m able to show you what I did.

Here’s how the final design turned out. There were a few minor adjustments but overall it stayed pretty close to the concept. If you’ve got a young boy in the house with a birthday coming up there’s a good chance you can order this exact cake from your local grocery store bakery.

[EDIT: I just received my copy of the actual toy. It’s pretty clever how it was built. You wind up Guido, then as he drives around the track a little curved stem protruding his side strikes against strategically placed pegs. This causes Guido to briefly turn and face the car before the curved stem slides off the peg and he moves on. It gives the illusion that Guido is stopping to fix each tire (or do whatever it is they do at a pit stop). Pretty neat!

I made a little a YouTube video showing the toy in action: