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Traditions Cork Sealer,
Traditions Artist Acrylic
Traditions Deluxe Starter Set is also available in Murphy's Markdowns!
This tutorial is centered around the Duck Blind video
series on How to Carve Hunting Decoys. The painting
segment on the video featured the use of JoSonja (JS)
paint products that I replaced with the more durable
DecoArt “Traditions” (Jansen) line of acrylics.
Although most painting and texturing techniques are the
same between the two lines of paint some changes with
medium use needs clarification for video viewers wanting
to use the Traditions paint. This tutorial can also be
used by anyone that is interested in painting a Drake
Mallard using the Traditions line of Acrylics.
Sealing of the decoy is a must to not only protect it
from water damage but also for good paint durability. If
your decoy body is cork then Traditions cork sealer
should be used. This will replace the JS All Purpose
sealer used on the video. I recommend two liberal coats
of the Traditions Sealer making sure that all the
surfaces get covered. For maximum durability 24 hour
drying time is recommended.
Cork Sealer can also be used on wood and in this case I
brushed out a thin coat on the entire head. I make
double sure to have several coats at the joint between
head and body. If you are doing all wood decoys then you
should consider using the Traditions Multi-Surface
Sealer. Again two liberal coats should be applied with a
light sanding between coats after 24 hour drying time.
The two sealers are basically the same except the cork
sealer has a higher acrylic content to fill the voids in
the cork. I do not suggest that you force dry with a
hair dryer as some moisture could be trapped and cause
My next step is to locate the areas of color change and
feather groups as I formulate my plans for texturing.
Locating these areas will make blocking in colors
easier. In the case of the Drake Mallard I will have
three basic areas of base color. The breast will be
reddish brown. The head, back, sidepockets and rump will
be black and the tail will be white. I will explain my
reasoning for the black base coat later in the tutorial.
Texturing.........This step has several levels of
importance. First and foremost is that texturing creates
another layer of acrylic protection to the decoy
surface. Texture also helps to eliminate shine as well
as providing more grip on a wet decoy. Next, texturing
yields a great surface for painting and portraying
vermiculated feather groups. Lastly, I use the texturing
process to block in color areas. The main tool used for
texturing is a sponge that has a small and even cell
structure. A good example would be the sponge material
used in furniture. The texture medium that I will use is
On the video I used a mixture of JS texture paste and
Gesso. The Gesso was added to give the paste more body.
The Traditions paste has plenty of body so Gesso should
be eliminated when using this product. I do add a small
amount of paint color to the paste so that I'm blocking
in color and texturing at the same time. If you add to
much paint you will dilute the texture and diminish the
Use just use enough paint to tint the
mixture. The example below will give you an idea of the
Texture Medium plus small amount
of Carbon Black paint.
After mixing a small amount of black paint with the
paste, I will start the blocking in process by texturing
the back, side pockets and rump with the black tinted
paste. Using the sponge, dab on the mixture and scrub in
a liberal amount filling any voids on the surface. By
pushing and pulling the sponge with quick strokes
against the surface a bumped up textured surface will
appear. Make sure the texture that appears is even
through out the area. I suggest that you practice
texturing on a paper plate to perfect the technique.
Once the black areas are dry then do the
breast and tail tinting the texture paste with the
appropriate color. Tint the breast with Burnt Umber and
the Tail with Medium White.
Because I will be using the texture on
the back and side pockets to simulate fine vermiculation
I tinted my texture paste with black paint but will
eventually paint these areas gray. This way, if by
chance any of the gray paint is rubbed off the top of
the texture, the color will still be black the same as
the vermiculated color. This will make more sense after
I dry brush the texture to create the vermiculated
Now it's time to paint. The Traditions
paint has a very heavy acrylic content and therefore is
very durable. For best results use the paint straight
from the bottle and do not dilute with water. Even
though Traditions is very strong it is possible to
toughen the paint even more with the addition of
Traditions Glazing medium. I mix about 10% glazing
medium into each puddle of paint, so that I do not have
to put a final sealer on the decoy. When the paint is
dry, I am totally finished and the final sealer built
in. However, the Traditions Glazing Medium can be used as a final
sealer after painting if you desire and I'll deal with
that later in this tutorial.
I start by painting the bill with Traditions Yellow
Oxide plus Glazing medium. For the second coat of paint
on the bill I added a small amount of Raw Umber to the
Yellow Oxide to give the final color a little greenish
brown tone. I'll detail later.
I continue by painting the head Carbon Black. Notice
that I textured and painted over the eye. Be careful to
cut in around the bill with a clean sharp line. After
the head I paint the breast using a mix of 60% Burnt
Umber and 40% Raw Umber. I usually like a little more
Burnt Umber than Raw Umber but I encourage you to
experiment with the mix. Remember to add 10% Glazing
Medium to each color of paint for durability.
Now it's time to paint the back and side pockets. For
this color I like to use Traditions Light Grey. The
Light Grey right out is a bit on the blue (cool) side so
I add a small amount of Yellow Oxide plus glazing Medium
to the mix a warm grey. A couple of words of caution:
First, a small amount of Yellow Oxide goes a long way.
If you add to much the grey will be on the green side.
Second, make sure you mix enough of the warm grey to
finish the job. It's always best to mix more than you
I finish blocking in the colors by painting the upper
and lower rump Carbon Black and the tail a 50/50 mix of
Medium White and Titanium White. You can just use
Titanium White if you prefer. See the pictures below for
Now it's time to learn about dry brushing and taking
advantage of the texture. For this procedure I use paint
right out of the bottle and a “DRY” brush. I prefer a
flat brush and in various widths depending on the area
that I'm painting. Starting with a dry brush is a must
and you should try hard not to get paint into the heel
of the brush. This will take a bit of practice to
perfect but a light touch and the use of building the
paint layers slowly is in order. Basically you are
dragging the paint brush across the top of the texture
and adding color just to the top of the peaks and not
the valleys. I use the side of the brush to avoid
accidentally pushing the brush tips into the texture
valleys. The paper plate or board that you used to for
texture practice would be perfect for learning the dry
Clean your brush on a paper towel. You can see how the
towel texture gets painted.
Pull the flat side brush over
texture top. Do not push the brush tips into the valley.
If by chance you make a mistake with to much paint it is
very easy to repaint the textured area and start over.
Also, make sure that you add glazing medium to your drybrushing paint color to make it more durable.
Lastly....never dilute your paint with water.
Now that you practiced drybrushing texture it's time to
put it to work on the head, by creating the highlight for
the head color. For this procedure I like to use
Grey paint. Basically anywhere you plan to put color you
should dry brush the Grey. Use your reference as a guide
or the pictures below to give you an idea of color
The Drake Mallard head has several colors but it is
basically green. Make sure the Grey is dry before
proceeding to adding the colors. For the Green I am
using Medium Green and for the blue I'm using Ultra
Marine Blue. I start with the main color of green but
leave an area at the back of the head for a slight blue
color. You will notice that when you are dry brushing
the color on that the green will disappear into the
black. That is why I create the highlight of Grey first.
If you really want a brighter color than you can simply
make the highlight brighter in color. Again check your
reference or my pictures.
Once you are happy with the color areas you can go back
with the Black and drybrush all the areas that should
appear black blending into color. The great thing about
this process is you can always go back to black and
start over. As a reminder don't forget to add a little
glazing medium to your colors for the durability. You
will be amazed how soft this will look from a distance.
Using a 50/50 mix of Burnt Umber and Raw Umber, I paint
the brown area on the back that starts above the side
pocket and extends to the end of the tertial feather.
This area of brown also goes down the middle of the back
and ends at the tip of the tertial feather group.
Now it's time to put the white (Titanium) around the
neck and the flank area. Utilize the texture to drybrush
and soften the transition. The neck ring on a wild
Mallard does not go all the way around the neck and is
open at the back of the neck. Refer to the picture of
the flank area and again using the drybrushing
technique, blend the white into the grey on the flank.
You can then drybrush the other edge of the white with
Using Medium White I will outline the tertial feather
After the white outline is completely dry then using
Medium Beige I will drybrush up to the edge of the white
giving a two tone effect with a white outline.
Now it's time for bill detail. Use Carbon black and
paint the nostrils and the nail. After the bill is
completely dry, paint the entire bill with two coats of
The Glazing Medium will give the bill a slight sheen and
To uncover the eye I use a
"#11" X-Acto blade and
score around the eye, then scrape off the paint. Don't
worry about scraping the eye as the knife will not cut
In the picture below
(left), you can see the white ring left from
opening to the proper shape.
To eliminate the ring, make a wash of black paint and a
small amount of water and flood the eye with the mix
using a small paint brush. Wipe off and soak up the
excess with a paper towel.
Using Medium Beige I paint in the tail feathers and also
a hit of primaries. See the pictures below for location
of both groups.
Next I like to give a hint of a vermiculated surface by
using the drybrush technique and the texture on the
back and side pockets. Use a wide soft brush and Carbon
Black paint being very careful to just paint the top of
the texture. Again be careful of over loading your
brush.......... it's called drybrushing for a reason.
With the decoy painting basically finished, it is time to
add the keel. I will not go into great detail regarding
the keel design in this tutorial, as that is a subject
unto itself. I like to use composite decking material
for my keels because it is heavy and seldom needs extra
weight. Lastly, it is very important that the keel is
attached to the decoy and sealed properly so there is no
chance of water wicking around screws, bolts, or dowels.
Some folks will rely totally on glue to hold their
keels. I will use glue and screws but ideally I like to
use dowels and Titebond 3 waterproof glue for keel
attachment. After the glue is dry then I will paint the
decoy bottom including the keel and then put two heavy
coats of glazing medium, full strength, making sure that
all surfaces are completely covered. Let the glazing air
dry between coats. Once it is dry then I heat set the
entire decoy with a hair dryer to strengthen the paint.
If you chose to add 10 percent
Medium to each puddle of paint color while you were
painting, then you are completely finished. Let dry 24
hours and then final heat set with a hair dryer. If you
did not add the glazing medium to your paint, then you
may want to put on a protective coat at the end just as
a preventative for scuffing of dark colors. I personally
make a dilution of 50/50 Traditions Glazing Medium to water and then apply
to the entire decoy. You may want to experiment with the
dilution, as the Glazing Medium will add some sheen to the
decoy. I'm of the opinion that a little sheen is great
and looks natural, but others think that a flat look is
the way to go. Flat to me is lifeless. The more Glazing
Medium in the dilution, the more protection but also the more
sheen. One or two coats will do and let this dry 24
hours and then heat set.
Now it's time to go
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Mallard Body Carving