I made this Funkiest Monkey Cake for my great-nephew's birthday which was held at a place called The Funky Monkey. It takes a lot of cupcakes, but this was a big party. I wasn't sure how to lay this out, so I printed/cut out a bunch of 2 ½ inch circles, put up the card table, and laid them out until I liked the way it looked (I saved those circles in a Ziploc for designing future cakes).
I baked 48 cupcakes, 24 white and 24 chocolate in black cupcake papers (these are easy to find at Halloween, try Michaels at any other time of year). Once the cupcakes were completely cool, I laid them out on a piece of thin plywood covered in parchment paper. In order to give everyone a chance at a cupcake they might like, I mixed the white and chocolate cupcakes so some would be iced with tinted vanilla buttercream and some with chocolate buttercream. It meant we had four different cupcake/icing combinations. The cake batter and buttercream were made from scratch.
If you are worried about the cupcakes sliding while you are decorating, you can put a drop of buttercream on the bottom of each one. You can also use Karo Syrup, but I find it too sticky and messy when the cupcakes are served.
I iced the smooth tan cupcakes first, outlined the hands/feet in chocolate, and then I used a star tip to fill in all the dark chocolate areas. I tinted some icing green and made leaves surrounding the hands and feet, some hanging down the side of the cupcake and even putting a few directly on the parchment. Last, I used a tube of black store-bought icing (easier when you don't need much and want a good black color) to make the mouth, eyes, and nose.
The birthday message on his tummy was made by using Lindt White Chocolate tinted red and molded in a candy mold icing would be just as good, but I had a hand issue and my writing wasn't steady.