By John "crewchief252" Potts
I use Liquitex acrylics, but any paint will do, and they are all very basic colors.

First off, if you are painting an already painted deek, refer to my previous article about painting decoys as to how to prepare the decoy. If it is a carving or first time paint job, start here. First, seal the decoy with a flat clear sealer - I use Krylon 1311. Give it a couple of heavy coats so it sinks in to the wood or cork. After it dries, give it a light sanding, I think steel wool works best. From there, give the entire bird 2 or 3 coats of white mixed with gesso - about ½ and ½. The gesso gives it a good tooth (surface for the paint to adhere to), then lay out all your lines with a pencil. You can go very basic or very creative, depending on your skill or what type of reference you have.

TIP #1= Always mix up a little more paint then you think you will need, and save the extra for touch up, a plastic film can works great for this.
Start at the tail with a mixture of black and white, with a touch of brown to make a dusky medium gray - do bottom and top of tail. I recommend using 2-3 thin coats. Next is the rump and the chest, both using the same color. - black with a little brown mixed in. Next is the head. Paint one coat with the same paint from the rump and chest. When you do the second coat, while it is still wet, brush the green into the cheeks until you get the desired look. ( Greater) you can use a medium purple instead of green for a lesser, this step will give it that greenish or purplish tint they have. Last is the bill. Use paynes grey with a little white mixed in to get the desired shade. If you are painting the eyes in, 1st paint them white. This will make the final color stand out a little more. Then use a mixture of yellow, with a touch of white mixed in to make it a straw color.

TIP #2= Remember this is a basic paint job; don't get too caught up in trying for perfection.
Now you have completed a basic paint job, and it will bring them in.

The following steps will add some life to the paint job, and are a good way to learn some extra painting techniques. For the back you can just paint it a slightly darker grey, or leave it white and do what are called vermuculations ( those little squiggly black lines ). There are a few ways to do this, 1) You can paint themvwith a very thin brush. Make sure the paint is fairly thinned with water - this will make it flow easily. It doesn't take as long as you would think; basically you are just painting short lines in a crescent shape to follow the shape of the feather. Another way is to do it with a felt tip pen, just make sure it is completely dry before you coat it with clear sealer or it will run. A third way is to dry brush it. This only works if the bird is textured. Then you take a brush and dip it in black, and dry the brush on a piece of paper towel. From there you can brush it across the texturing and it will only show up on the raised parts.
Scaup Decoy Painting
For where the black and white meet, ( rump and chest to sidepockets) this is where the saved paint comes into play. Using a thin brush, make lines from the black to the white ( with black ) from the chest to the sides...
Scaup Decoy Painting

Do the same with white from the sides to the rump...
Scaup Decoy Painting
...this breaks up the hard line between the 2 colors, and just adds a bit more detail to the paint job. When you are done, hit it with a few coats of clear matte sealer. Now, you have completed a basic paint job. If anyone has any questions, feel free to pm me (username = crewchief252) and I will try and answer them. Good hunting!
Also see - Black Duck Decoy Painting