I did a little illustration for Illustrated Research on Instagram. They are doing endangered species month and I was assigned the maned sloth. Sloths are super cute, but they are hard to draw in an interesting way because they literally do one thing. Or they are on the ground and look like dying monsters. You know, they head down to the ground only once a week to poop. What a life. I can’t decide if I am jealous.

Anyways, pooping aside, (haha, I almost wrote asside)—the above is Bradypus torquatus, the maned sloth. They live only on the east coast of South America and are listed as vulnerable with a decreasing population. Here’s a map from the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) about where the maned three-toed sloth lives:

As you can see, it is a pretty small area. There are only four species of three-toed sloth.  The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is the smallest, lives in a tiny bit of Central America, and is critically endangered. The pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) lives in north eastern South America and is doing just fine.  The brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) lives in the northern half of South America and is also just fine. Both the pale- and brown-throated sloths are the ones with the cute little superhero masks.

Here are my sketches and notes. I couldn’t find my typical sketching pen, my Carbon Platinum, so I used another nice fountain pen. But as you can see, the ink does not dry quickly enough for my massive, sweaty hands. And below is a color test using Copic markers, which is what I used in the final at the top. I have already drawn six images the previous couple of days, so I didn’t have the energy or inclination to draw a complex background.

The other fella in the top image is a sloth moth, one of a few species of moth that lives only in sloth fur. The moths fly out from the sloth when the sloth heads to the forest floor for its weekly poo. The moths lay their eggs and then head back home with the sloth. The forest floor is the most dangerous place a sloth can go, but it is essential for the co-evolved sloth moths.