Edible Art: How to create an image entirely out of food

With a little imagination and patience, we can easily use the simplest of ingredients to create an amazing piece of food art. Harley from @harleysfood_art takes us through some of his most notable creations and shows us how he creates his amazing works.

The portrait…

This amazing portrait of one of Johnny Depp’s most infamous characters is just breathtaking. Harley has done an brilliant job at capturing his likeness just using food, even down to his makeup for the character.

How Harley brought Johnny to life

I have also been a fan of Johnny Depp and “Pirates of the Carribean” is one of my favorite movies and Jack Sparrow is one of my favorite characters.

For portraits, I start with the mashed potato face and neck dying it with natural food coloring from India Tree. Then I start sculpting the features and little by little adding all of the details. For the eye make up and scar I used black and red food coloring. Some ingredients I use raw like the peppers, eggplant, turnip, and mushrooms, and others like the potatoes and pasta have to be cooked. The pasta was dyed with brown food coloring which I do after cooking it. Once the piece is complete, I go back and further edit the piece making minor changes to get the details as close as possible to the reference photo.

I simply used my iPhone and natural lighting. I have great windows in my apartment and the lighting in the early morning is terrific for taking photos. I edit the piece using Instagram. The before pic is very similar just a bit darker and I usually get rid of the before pics since I normally take about 20 photos and choose the best one to edit. My edits are very minor - they adjust for brightness and saturation since no matter how great the lighting is a photo always has to be minorly edited.


The animal art…

Who doesn’t love Dumbo and this piece of food art by Harley certainly pays tribute to the character. It not only resembles Dumbo, Harley has captured the innocence and playful nature of this much loved character.

How Harley brought Dumbo to life…

I was inspired by the new Dumbo movie and realized I had never created a Dumbo food art before. 

I started with the mashed potatoes which I dyed with squid ink, cooked the bacon and the egg and added those to the piece along with the rest of the ingredients - turnip, eggplant, blue dyed mashed potato for the eye, and smoked salmon for the ears.

I simply used my iPhone to photograph it in natural lighting. For this the editing was very minor since I got a great shot in almost perfect natural lighting.


The architectural art…

Harley puts so much time and effort into the detail of his food art and this amazing piece of St. Basil’s Cathedral is no exception. You can instantly picture the Russian architectural icon in all its glory and intricate detail.

How Harley brought this Cathedral to life

I studied art history and architecture in school and was always fascinated by St. Basil’s Cathedral. I wanted to recreate this beautiful monument in food art. I also love to be challenged and this was one of the hardest pieces with so much detail so it really pushed me. 

I started with the raw sweet potato base then spent a lot of time cutting each of the ingredients to use for all of the colorful details. It was very time consuming to individually cut each pepper, apple, zucchini, etc.. however I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Again, I simply used my iPhone to photograph it in natural lighting. This piece I edited on Instagram to brighten it and enhance the colors. Again the editing was very minor. Unfortunately I do not keep the before pictures. 


Thank you to Harley for sharing some insights into your amazing creations with us. Harley is our guest mentor for our July foodie challenge #cs_playwithyourfood running from 22-28 July 2019. To see more of Harley’s artworks you can follow him on Instagram @harleysfood_art.