My 4 year old son couldn't decide on which design he wanted on his Pirate Theme Cake, so I did all three. A Skull Head, Treasure Island and a Pirate Ship. So much fun and he LOVED them! I bought a large tub of plain white cream icing that I dyed for most of the colors. The "Skull Head" cake is simply 2 - 9" rounds. I did red velvet so it kinda looked bloody when cut.
I frosted the whole cake red and then star tipped my design on and outlined with regular piping tip. #2 cake, "Treasure Island" was a rectangular cake, "broken" in half. I used store-bought chocolate icing that I lightened slightly with white for sand/beach, green and yellow for grass and flowers. I "tepee'd 3 small pretzels and covered with green icing for a small tree. Really cute and easy. Added some store-bought pirates. I added gold nugget bubblegum to treasure chest for "overflow" effect and used malted chocolate balls and jelly beans for rocks and pebbles. Graham cracker crumbs for sand.
Chocolate coins and pirate chewies around outside of cake were a hit with kids too. #3 - Pirate Ship. I used a pound cake mix since they are sturdier when cutting. A loaf pan and 2 small heart shaped pans for body. Turned loaf upside down for hull and back. Heart shapes were turned upside down and stacked with point as front of ship and round edges cut off and met with end of pound cake to form the front of ship. I notched out the shape of the ship, wells in bottom and sides open and then iced. Use different colors as it gives the cake dimension but also looks better than just solid. I used pretzel squares for sides and top accents. I used fruit loop circles as holes for oars, which are pretzel sticks too. Chopstick masts and sail cutouts are easy to make. Add a few pirates and that's it.
I used blue jello as the water, which turned out great because it jiggles and is reflective, like water, then added a few sea creatures. So much fun and turned out so festive and colorful.