We’re thinking of an animal that has shiny eyes, dainty, triangular ears, dark, chubby paws, and a long, bushy tail. Did you figure it out? It’s a lesser panda! (Also known as a red panda.) Just a glance of this cute little creature is sure to put a smile on your face. Unfortunately, unless something is done, lesser pandas may not be around for much longer. Over the last two decades, the world’s lesser panda population has more than halved. Now, only some 10,000 are left. This has led the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, to officially classify lesser pandas as “endangered.”
Each year, on the third Saturday of September, the world celebrates International Lesser Panda Day. This year, that day falls on September 18. In celebration of International Lesser Panda Day, Samsung Newsroom organized a very special event with Da-seul Jeong, also known as Aeso, the illustrator who created the beloved emoji character Ompangi.
The collaboration offered Aeso an opportunity to observe lesser pandas and celebrate the creatures by creating a unique character. A total of eleven lesser panda-inspired drawings were transformed into stickers that can be utilized in our daily lives. Follow along as we recount Aeso’s first encounter with the lesser pandas, and how they inspired her to create a one-of-a-kind character.
Capturing Lesser Pandas’ Charm With the Galaxy Z Flip3
Standing between 50 and 60 centimeters tall, with a roughly 50-cm long tail and weighing between three to six kilograms, Lessy, one of the lesser pandas who calls Korea’s Everland zoo and theme park home, is a nocturnal animal who can typically be found being active or resting in the shade or on the branches of tall trees during the day. This male panda, who has lived alone for the last six years, is slightly sensitive and timid. Lemon, on the other hand, a female lesser panda who joined Lessy at Everland last year, is energetic and a little bit aggressive. The couple doesn’t always get along, and their rather tense form of chemistry fascinates visitors.
An expert on dealing with cute things, Aeso instantly recognized the lesser pandas’ endless charm. On International Lesser Panda Day, the Galaxy Z Flip3 served as her eyes and ears. The smartphone enabled her to not only take selfies on the Cover Display without unfolding the phone, but also allowed her to snap pictures with the screen folded at an optimal angle. This allowed her to capture the lesser pandas’ diverse and expressive movements.
“What struck me when I first saw them was their round shape,” said Aeso. “Their eyes, their ears, their paws… everything was round. This inspired me to create a character that was as round as possible.”
“I also noticed that they had white fur around their noses and ears,” she added. “I thought I should definitely use that. The Galaxy Z Flip3 helped me a lot when I was creating the characters by vividly capturing the lesser pandas’ unique characteristics.”
Giving Lesser Pandas Their Spotlight
When it came to creating a new emoji character, Aeso decided to start by observing the animals’ emotions. “I normally use the Galaxy Note10 to quickly take notes or draw images of emotions and situations that emerge in everyday life,” she explained. “Afterward, I consider how people can empathize with them. The countless emoji that have been created so far resonate with emotions that I have felt in daily life.”
After observing the lesser pandas’ expressions, movements and emotions up close, Aeso started drawing with the S Pen and the Galaxy Z Fold3, which is optimized for sketching. Her app of choice was Clip Studio Paint, a creative app that enhances the usability of tablets. She used the Galaxy Z Fold3 in various ways during the drawing process, placing the device wide open on the floor to make a rough sketch from a broad perspective.
The smartphone’s multitasking features, which allow users to open three apps at once in split-screen mode and five more apps as pop-ups, helped Aeso immerse herself in her work. “When I work, I usually move back and forth between windows containing reference images or materials,” she explained. “This time, it was incredibly convenient because I could see them all at once without needing to bounce back and forth.”
“My hands often hurt after long hours of drawing with pens,” she continued. “But when I used the S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Z Fold3, with its extraordinary grip and feel, even long hours of work didn’t feel so hard.”
When excited, lesser pandas tend to ‘dance’ and wag their tails. Sometimes, when they are observing something closely, they look rather serious. When they see bamboo, they appear to be full of joy. You can see some of these emotions in the drawings below.
Aeso hopes that the stickers will help inspire the world to take action. “I truly hope they can get through this crisis and stay around for a long, long time,” she added.
1 Korea’s Everland zoo and theme park