The Beginner’s Guide to Paper Folding

Origami is actually a very easy hobby to pick up and it’s a lot of fun. All you need is paper and you can use pretty much any paper you can find. This guide will show you the main folds, the basic bases that are used as the foundation for a huge number of different models and then you’ll learn how to fold your first model, the traditional paper crane.

Mountain and Valley Folds

These are the two basic folds in origami. Every fold is either a mountain fold, a valley fold or a combination of the two.

Mountain Fold

With a Mountain Fold the crease bends the paper down and the crease resembles a mountain

With a Valley Fold the crease bends the paper up and the crease resembles a valley.

Common Origami Folds

Here are the most common folds with step by step instructions how to make them. These folds might not look exactly the same as they do in these examples all the time when you’re folding other models. However these examples should show you how they work so you’ll be able to figure out what you’re supposed to do when you’re following diagrams.

Origami Bases

There are several bases in paper folding that are used to start many different models. For example the bird base is the start of many paper birds. Often times you’ll see instructions telling you to start with a particular base just to save some time or space in the instructions. There aren’t too many bases and you’ll see the same ones repeated a lot of times in different models.

Folding Your First Model, the Traditional Origami Crane

Once you’ve got the hang of all the above folds and bases you’re more than ready to fold the traditional origami crane. The crane will start off with a bird base and after that most of the work is already done.

Click Here for the Crane Instructions

What’s Next?

Now that you know all the basic folds, bases and have folded your first model you can go pretty much anywhere with origami.

Check out the diagrams section of this website. You should be able to find that you’ll have no problem folding anything with a beginner or easy rating. With a little bit of practice you should be able to fold diagrams here with an intermediate rating too.

After that just keep practicing and you’ll get even better. If you’d like advice you can read these tips and advice from expert origami artists as well.

Recommended Books for Beginners

Here are a couple of our favourite books that we highly recommend when you’re starting out with origami. These have an excellent collection of simple models to fold and will help improve your skills.

Origami Omnibus

Origami Omnibus

By: Kunihiko Kasahara

This is one of my all time favourite origami books. It has a wide array of different kinds of models from shapes, to animals, and more. There are some very simple beginner models, some that are a bit harder but still pretty easy and some intermediate level ones.

This is a perfect book to start out with and if you work your way through it your skill with origami will definitely improve quite a bit!

Absolute Beginner's Origami

Absolute Beginner’s Origami

By: Nick Robinson

A perfect book for beginners with lots of simple models where everything is explain very clearly. The models are all very easy so this book is really just for beginners.

Origami Zoo

Origami Zoo: 25 Fun Paper Animal Creations!

By: Paul Jackson

This is a great collection of easy to fold animals and is also great if you’re just starting out with origami. The animals start out really simple and get a little bit more difficult but you should have no problem working your way through the book. It also comes with some free origami paper!

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