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.

This is a very common fold where the paper is folded inside itself.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 1

1) I’m starting out with a square folded in half diagonally

Inside Reverse Fold Step 2

2) I’m going to make an inside reverse fold on the right side so I start by making a valley fold.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 3

3) Crease the fold well and then unfold it.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 4

4) Flip the paper over and fold the same crease from step 3 in the opposite direction along the same line you already folded.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 5

5) Open the paper up somewhat and fold the section you just creased inside. Since you folded that section both ways it should easily tuck inside.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 6

6) Push everything flat and you have an Inside Reverse Fold.

Inside Reverse Fold Step 7

If you unfold the paper you’ll see the following Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

This is another very common fold. It’s just like the inside reverse fold except the paper is folded on the outside.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 1

1) I’m starting out with a square folded in half diagonally.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 2

2) I’m going to do an outside reverse fold with this little flap here so I start by folding a Valley Fold.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 3

3) Just like with the inside reverse fold you want to fold it the other direction on the other side too.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 4

4) Once you’ve folded both ways along the crease open the paper up. You can see how the corner kind of wants to pop forward there.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 5

5) Fold it back in on itself along the two creases you made.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 6

6) Here you can see what I mean by folding it back on itself.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 7

7) Push everything nice and flat and you have an Outside Reverse Fold.

Outside Reverse Fold Step 8

If you open the paper up you’ll see the following Mountain (black) and Valley (red) Folds.

This is another pretty common fold that somewhat resembles a rabbit’s ear.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 1

1) I’m starting off with a square folded in half diagonally to use that crease as a guide.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 2

2) Valley fold the paper along the red line so it touches the crease down the center of the paper.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 3

3) Crease it well and unfold.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 4

4) Do the same valley fold on the other side.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 5

5) Crease it well and unfold.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 6

6) You now want to start folding both sides along the creases you just made. Notice what happens to the paper in the center.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 7

7) Push the paper together in the center so you get a little triangle like in the picture.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 8

8) The triangle can be folded either to the left or the right depending what’s asked for in the model you’re folding.

Rabbit Ear Fold Step 9

If you unfold the paper you’ll see the following Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

A very common fold where you basically just squash a flap of paper down.

Squash Fold Step 1

1) For illustrative purposes I’m starting out with a Square Base. You can find the instructions for a Square Base later in this guide.

Squash Fold Step 2

2) Lift one of the flaps straight up (with a square base there are four “flaps” of paper).

Squash Fold Step 3

3) Open the flap up and push down on the top until it is flat.

Squash Fold Step 4

4) The completed Squash Fold.

This is another pretty basic fold that comes up a lot.

Pleat Step 1

1) For the sake of this example I’m starting out with a square folded in half

Pleat Step 2

2) Make a Valley Fold anywhere, I’m making one on the red line.

Pleat Step 3

3) Make another valley Fold back to the right.

Pleat Step 4

4) This is a completed Pleat.

Pleat Step 5

From the side it kind of looks like a Z.

This fold is very similar to the Pleat and Outside Reverse Fold. It’s kind of a combination of both of those folds.

Crimp Step 1

1) For the sake of this example I’m starting out with a square folded in half

Crimp Step 2

2) Fold a section of the paper to the side like in the Pleat.

Crimp Step 3

3) Fold the paper back so you have a Pleat.

Crimp Step 4

4) Open the paper up and you can see the creases you made.

Crimp Step 5

5) Fold the paper back along the vertical creases to make another Pleat.

Crimp Step 6

6) The finished Crimp.

Crimp Step 7

From the side you can see that it’s kind of like two Pleats.

Another quite common fold. You’ll see it used in the Bird Base.

Petal Fold Step 1

1) Start off with a square base.

Petal Fold Step 2

2) Make a valley fold towards the center on each side.

Petal Fold Step 3

3) The completed valley folds. Crease the folds well and unfold them.

Petal Fold Step 4

4) Now make another valley fold across the top along the line.

Petal Fold Step 5

5) The completed valley fold. Crease this fold well and then unfold it.

Petal Fold Step 6

6) Now lift up the top flap and fold it back across the crease you just made near the top.

Petal Fold Step 7

7) As you raise the flap up you want to fold the edges along the creases you made in step 2.

Petal Fold Step 8

8) This is the end result. Most of the folds should fall in place because of the creases you made earlier. This is the completed Petal Fold.

This fold is very similar to the regular Petal Fold it’s just performed on a somewhat different shape. You’ll see this variation a lot in many different models.

Petal Fold Variation Step 1

1) I’m starting off with a Square Base with one flap squashed with a Squash Fold.

Petal Fold Variation Step 2

2) Fold both sides into the center along the red lines.

Petal Fold Variation Step 3

3) Crease well and then unfold.

Petal Fold Variation Step 4

4) Try to make a Valley Fold along that horizontal red line.

Petal Fold Variation Step 5

5) Lift up like the regular Petal Fold folding against that horizontal crease you just made.

Petal Fold Variation Step 6

6) …push down following the existing creases.

Petal Fold Variation Step 7

7) The completed Petal Fold Variation.

This is another fold that comes up somewhat often in a lot of models.

Swivel Fold Step 1

1) I’m starting off with a Square Base that has a Squash Fold applied to one of the flaps. This sort of shape comes up pretty often.

Swivel Fold Step 2

2) Make a Valley Fold along where I have the black line.

Swivel Fold Step 3

3) Crease it well and then unfold it.

Swivel Fold Step 4

4) Now try to make another Valley Fold along the new line I’ve drawn.

Swivel Fold Step 5

5) As you make that second Valley Fold refold along the first crease you made.

Swivel Fold Step 6

6) Push everything flat.

Swivel Fold Step 7

7) The completed Swivel Fold.

This is a slightly more difficult fold but it comes up pretty often in some more intermediate-level models. You’re sinking the paper inside the model hence the name Sink.

Open Sink Step 1

1) I’m starting off with a Square Base but you can do Open Sinks on all kinds of shapes.

Open Sink Step 2

2) I’m going to sink that triangle at the top so I start by folding it down and creasing it well. You might want to flip the model over and fold it the opposite way too, it’ll make things slightly easier.

Open Sink Step 3

3) This is the view from the top, open the model out a little bit.

Open Sink Step 4

4) As you open the model out you’ll see that there’s an outline of a square. Some of these creases were made when I folded the square base.

Open Sink Step 5

5) You want to isolate that square and tuck it inside the model by pushing down on the center of that X.

Open Sink Step 6

6) As you push the paper inside you’ll notice that the sides start to come in as well.

Open Sink Step 7

7) Push everything closed once the paper is all tucked inside.

Open Sink Step 8

This is what the model looks like from the front after the Open Sink.

Open Sink Step 9

This is what the Open Sink looks like from the top.

Open Sink Step 10

And here’s what it looks like from the bottom which is kind of neat.

Open Sink Step 11

If you open the paper up you’ll notice these Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

Origami Bases

There are several bases in origami 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.

This is probably the most simple base and you’ll find it a lot in very simple models.

Kite Base Step 1

1) Start by making a Valley Fold diagonally across a square of paper. This will be a guide for the other folds.

Kite Base Step 2

2) Make another Valley fold folding this side to the center line.

Kite Base Step 3

3) Fold the other side to the center as well and you have the completed Kite Base.

This is one of the most common origami bases and it will show up in a ton of models. It’s sometimes called a square base and sometimes it’s called a preliminary base.

Square Base Step 1

1) Start with the white side up and fold in half with a valley fold.

Square Base Step 2

2) This is what the paper looks like folded in half.

Square Base Step 3

3) Fold in half again with a valley fold along the red line.

Square Base Step 4

4) This is what the paper looks like after the fold.

Square Base Step 5

5) Lift up one of the halfs and get ready to push it down like in a squash fold.

Square Base Step 6

6) …starting to squash it down.

Square Base Step 7

7) …pushing it down completely flat.

Square Base Step 8

8) This is what it looks like after you’ve squashed it down.

Square Base Step 9

9) Flip the paper over so it looks like this.

Square Base Step 10

10) You want to fold the big flap over to the left so there’s a valley fold along the black line. That crease will have been folded both directions.

Square Base Step 11

11) You want to squash this flap down like you did on the other side.

Square Base Step 12

12) …squashing the paper down.

Square Base Step 13

13) The completed square base.

Square Base Step 14

If you open the base up you’ll see the follwing mountain (black) and valley (red) folds.

This is how you start out making the traditional paper Waterbomb and that is where this base gets its name.

Waterbomb Base Step 1

1) Start out with a square colour side up and Valley Fold it in half

Waterbomb Base Step 2

2) Crease it well and unfold.

Waterbomb Base Step 3

3) Fold the square in half vertically now.

Waterbomb Base Step 4

4) Crease it well and unfold.

Waterbomb Base Step 5

5) Turn the paper over and rotate it 45 degrees. Fold it in half horizontally.

Waterbomb Base Step 6

6) Crease it well and unfold it.

Waterbomb Base Step 7

7) Fold it in half vertically now.

Waterbomb Base Step 8

8) Crease it well and then unfold it.

Waterbomb Base Step 9

9) Now you have all the base creases you need. Start pinching in the left and right sides following the existing creases.

Waterbomb Base Step 10

10) Pinching in the sides…

Waterbomb Base Step 11

11) Flatten everything following the existing creases. The paper should go where it’s supposed to go.

Waterbomb Base Step 12

12) The completed Waterbomb Base.

Waterbomb Base Step 13

If you open the paper up you’ll see the following Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

This is a very common base that is used in a ton of origami models, especially when making birds.

Bird Base Step 1

1) Start off with a square base. The instructions for a square base are above this one a little bit up the page.

Bird Base Step 2

2) Make two valley folds along the black lines

Bird Base Step 3

3) The completed valley folds. Crease the folds well and unfold them.

Bird Base Step 4

4) Now make another valley fold across the top along the line. You’re going be to making a Petal Fold.

Bird Base Step 5

5) The completed valley fold. Crease this fold well and then unfold it.

Bird Base Step 6

6) Now lift up the top flap and fold it back across the crease you just made near the top.

Bird Base Step 7

7) As you raise the flap up fold the edges along the creases you made in step 2.

Bird Base Step 8

8) This is the end result. Most of the folds should fall in place because of the creases you made earlier.

Bird Base Step 9

9) Turn the paper over and repeat steps 2 to 8 on the other side. This is the completed bird base.

Bird Base Step 10

If you open the paper up you’ll see the following moutain (black) and valley (red) folds.

This base is really just two Rabbit Ear Folds.

Fish Base Step 1

1) Start of by folding a square of paper in half diagonally.

Fish Base Step 2

2) Do a Rabbit Ear Fold on one side.

Fish Base Step 3

3) The completed Rabbit Ear Fold.

Fish Base Step 4

4) Do another Rabbit Ear Fold on the other side.

Fish Base Step 5

5) The completed Fish Base.

Fish Base Step 6

If you open the model up you’ll see the following Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

This is the start of a traditional paper frog model which is where this base gets its name.

Frog Base Step 1

1) Start off by folding a Square Base. The instructions are a little bit up on this page.

Frog Base Step 2

2) Looking at the base from the top you’ll notice that there are four sort of arms.

Frog Base Step 3

3) We’re going to do a squash fold on each of these arms. Pick one…

Frog Base Step 4

4) …and squash fold it.

Frog Base Step 4

5) Flip the model over and squash fold the opposite flap.

Frog Base Step 5

6) There are two more flaps on the left and the right, pick one and squash fold it.

Frog Base Step 6

7) Once you’ve squash folded each of the flaps then you have the Frog Base.

Frog Base Step 7

8) If you open the model up you’ll notice these Mountain (black) and Valley (red) folds.

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 paper crane. The crane will start off with a bird base and after that most of the work is already done. This is probably the most famous model in origami and is probably the first thing I learned how to fold. Supposedly if you fold a thousand of these you get a ton of good luck.

Origami Crane Step 1

1) Start off with a Bird Base. Once you have the Bird Base you’re actually almost done. The instructions for the Bird Base are a little bit earlier on this page.

Origami Crane Step 2

2) Fold a side to the center line following my black line.

Origami Crane Step 3

3) This is what it looks like after that fold.

Origami Crane Step 4

4) Do the same thing to the other side.

Origami Crane Step 5

5) Once you’ve folded both those sides flip the model over and fold both the sides to the center again.

Origami Crane Step 6

6) Now you want to make a Valley fold along the black line.

Origami Crane Step 7

7) This is what the fold looks like.

Origami Crane Step 8

8) Flip the model over and fold along the same crease but in the other direction. We’re going to do an Inside Reverse Fold here.

9) Here we are making an Inside Reverse Fold with the creases we just made.

Origami Crane Step 10

10) Here is what the model looks like after the fold is complete.

Origami Crane Step 11

11) Do steps 6 to 10 on the other side so your model looks like the one in the picture.

Origami Crane Step 12

12) We’re now going to do another Inside Reverse Fold to make the head. Fold the paper one way.

Origami Crane Step 13

13) Fold the paper the other way on the other side.

Origami Crane Step 14

14) Make an Inside Reverse Fold on those two creases you just made. My Crane’s head doesn’t look that great because the paper I’m using is really thick.

Origami Crane Step 15

15) Fold the wings down and you have the completed Crane.

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

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

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: 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!

Looking for More Awesome Things to Fold?


Instructions for the best origami models can only be found in books. If you're looking for more awesome things to fold check out our favourite books. We've written reviews and made lists of the models you'll find in each one. No matter what you're looking for you'll definitely find some cool things to fold.

Check Out Our Book Recommendations Here