Pangolin

Original by Shane Swann

Medium pen and pencil

I started this drawing straight after completing Matriarch and Baby . After taking on such a mammoth task with the elephant drawing, I
felt I wanted to work on something much smaller that I could complete faster. However I discovered that working on a smaller scale, on such a textured animal meant I had to work even more intensely on the detail – meaning it still took rather a long time to finish. Also it was the first time I’d worked on a drawing of an animal that didn’t have fur or fine feathers, I found it quite a challenge trying to find a way to draw in the effect of the scales. The other struggle was drawing in the structure and form of the scales – for example, when drawing fur, you can improvise a bit, however the pangolin’s scales had to be drawn almost mathematically, in a perfectly regimented order, I found this very difficult… if one scale was in the wrong place or wrong size, it would ruin the overall effect!

I was originally only going to draw the two pangolins, however in doing this, the composition looked wrong to me. I felt the pangolin needed to be grounded on something.. so I decided to draw in leaves, twigs etc, the kind you’d see on the ground of it’s natural habitat. I enjoyed this, the under and over lapping of leaves and twigs was challenging but fulfilling to complete.

I was very pleased with the outcome of this drawing, what started as simple sketch, actually became one of my favourite drawings i’ve done.

Pangolins are a sort of armoured ant-eater, and like ant-eaters, the young ride on the tail or back of the mother. They are also the only mammal covered in scales. For millions of years the pangolin’s armour made it perfectly adapted for protecting itself against predators, not even a lion’s razor sharp teeth can penetrate through it’s scales. However mass destruction of its habitat and trafficking for it’s meat and scales has left the pangolin critically endangered. It is estimated over the past decade, 1 million pangolins have been trafficked, making them the most trafficked mammal in the world.

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