Mixed Martial Art: A step by step drawing of Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson


Photo via

To quote my friend Ande Parks who, when a movie stopped and the lights turned on in the first minute, stood up and said, "You’re probably wondering why I gathered you all here today."

My name is Scott Cohn. As in ice cream cone. I’ve been a professional artist for over 16 years now, working in comics, illustration, and storyboards for commercials. I absolutely love the sport of MMA and would love to help it grow in any way I can.

It’s mostly love of this sport that I started doing these illustrations, much like artists have, and still do, for the romanticism of boxing. And if people enjoy, great!

Everything starts with art, from the spoons you use, to the lights in an operating room, to the ring our favorite fighters fight in. I started with "Rampage" for two reasons: He's a popular fighter and he has great body language. I wanted to start with someone who looks like a fighter. Physical with a ton of attitude.

Jackson was tougher to draw than most, so I took the liberty of doing a step-by-step to walk you through the beginning stages all the way to the glorious ending.

Check it out:

Step 1:


I was happy with the likeness, but wasn’t so sure that his body looked all that tough. And since I was using photo reference, there had to be a better one.

Step 2:


MUCH better. This is a combination of two photos. Now he feels like he has weight. But this is where the problems start. I’m not happy with his face, after all, and like I do with most of my drawings, I throw it on the light box and redraw on the back of the piece, fixing mistakes, reworking parts, or all of the figure. I rework his likeness to something I’m happy with and I have to decide -- retrace it back through to the other side or just keep going and do it all backwards? That includes all the lettering on his tattoos and sponsors. Knowing that, why did I put my signature in at that point? I have no idea. Moving along.

Step 3:


Now I flesh out the direction I want this piece to go in. I know in the back of my head I want to have a color highlight. Doing the tattoos wasn’t as bad as I thought, in the end, it’s all shapes anyway.

Step 4:


Yes, it’s true! I drew this in col-erase blue pencil first. I feel like I lied to you on our first outing. I’ll never do it again. But no promises. For some reason I shot this with my i-phone instead of scanning it in. But I just wanted to document and show the tightening up process. I’ll scan from now on.

Step 5:


The hardest part. Tightening up his face and not screwing it up.

Step 6:


Okay, time to get down to business. FLIP! For those wondering, this is not inked. HB pencil darkened and cleaned up in Photoshop. I wanted to try to keep some of the roughness from the sketch in the final.

Step 7:


Alright, alright, alright, now I need to figure out what I’m going do here color wise. I grab an earlier version and start to color. Truth to tell, I did this step earlier, but it makes more sense to have it here. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Step 8:


Rampage colors have been flatted (meaning no lighting or shading). And since Quinton has a propensity for camouflage, I added some in from a pattern I made when I worked on a movie related Gi Joe book.

Step 9:


Now I’ve laid in the shading. I picked a blue hue, and set the layer in Photoshop to "multiply", because I love how it plays with other colors. I also set it to 60-percent opacity. When I shade, I use a hard brush line at first to cover the areas I want shaded. Then I’ll set the brush to about 7-percent flow to soften some edges. I like the hard to soft. Makes things more interesting. Then I’ll section out areas, like his chest, and do some gradients.

Step 10 (Final outcome):


Lighting and UFC logo have been added. And we’re done!

I hope you all hung in there and dug the breakdown. I’ll be doing more of these as time permits. Thanks!

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