Autumn Wings Series 72 Mallard Painting Tutorial

Autumn Wings Series 72 Decoys

Mallard Painting Tutorial

Autumn Wings has created the new Series 72 Decoys. They make an unpainted version for all you do it yourselfers out there. We were fortunate to receive one of their unpainted series 72 puddle duck decoys. So we thought we would give a small mallard painting tutorial.

You can get paint from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, it all depends on how you want to go about it. The most important thing to do is make sure all the paint you use is compatible with each other. If you are going to use oils, use nothing but oils. The same goes for acrylics if you decide to use them. For this tutorial I will be using all Jansen Art Traditions. It is a very popular paint to use among decoy carvers and you can purchase it from The Duck Blind


First thing to do is seal the decoy and head. I am using Jansen multi purpose sealer and Jansen cork sealer. Whatever sealer you decide to use apply one coat wait for it to dry then apply a second.

D 1

The next thing to do is paint the body of the decoy grey. If you have gone and picked out a grey from the store you can apply it straight to the decoy. If needed you can mix a few colors to get the right shade of grey. For the Jansens you want to add a little warm white and yellow oxide to the light grey.

D 3

Once the body has been painted grey you can paint the rump section black. Jansens color is Carbon black.

collage 1Now paint the tail white, as well as a small strip on the sides, right in front of the black rump. With the Jansens I mix together warm white and titanium white.


Now paint the breast area brown. You can choose any shade of brown you like, but anything that’s close to burnt umber should work just fine. Try not to make too hard of a transition line. You want it to kind of fade out into the grey.

Dt 1

The next thing to do is take some of your brown paint and either mix it with a little black paint or raw umber. With this color you can paint the line down the middle of the back this line starts in the area the back of the head will rest, and extends back to the rump. Also, use this color to paint the edge of the wings that are located on the top of the side pockets.

Once that is done I like to use some of the original grey color and stipple it right behind where the head will go “the triangle on the back.”


Now using the brown/burnt umber paint mix (The same used to paint the line down the back); I take a wide brush and get a little bit of paint on it. Then, I run the brush across a paper towel until there is barely any paint left on the brush. After that, I gently run the brush across the back area of the decoy. This technique is called dry brushing. The goal is to have the paint just barely cover the high spots on the back. This will darken the back just a tad and when you’re done it will give it a very soft look.


For this next step you will want a finer brush. With some off white paint, “Jansen color is medium white” outline the tertial feathers. This will help them stand out and gives the decoys some depth.

Dt 2

Now it’s time to focus on the head, which was also sealed in the first step. Paint the head black and the bill a yellow oxide color. You can tone down the yellow if you like, with a little raw umber. Paint directly over the eyes. Once it’s done you can cut the paint off with a knife being very carful not to scratch the eyes.

Next you want to get a bright colored green “Jansen color is medium green.” You want to highlight the high spots like the cheek and the edges of the top of the head “crown” and fade it into the low spots like the eye channel and under the chin.

For the final touches paint the ring around the neck which only goes about 75% of the way around and I like to add a little white under the eyes. On the bill you need to add the black on the tip of the bill and you can add a little black in the nostrils.

dt 4

Here is the finished decoy. You can add as much or as little detail as you like, that’s the joy of being able to paint your own.