There are many different kinds of origami paper, and it can be a little bit confusing to figure out which one is best. Here, we explain the pros and cons of each different type and what situations they’re best used in.
What is GSM?
You’ll frequently see the term GSM used in this guide to describe paper thickness. GSM refers to the weight of the paper in grams per square meter. The lower the GSM, the thinner the paper. The higher the GSM, the thicker the paper. For reference, most newspapers are around 35 GSM to 55 GSM. Printer paper is usually around 90 GSM to 100 GSM. The card stock used for things like business cards is usually around 350 to 400 GSM. A lower GSM paper is usually easier to fold but more delicate, while a higher GSM paper is usually stronger but a bit harder to fold.
Common Origami Paper
Classic origami papers are versatile, affordable, and suitable for beginners and experienced folders. While they may not have the fancy patterns of specialty papers, they’re easily accessible and a great choice for artists of all levels.
Kami – The Best Paper for Beginners and Casual Folding
Kami is probably the most common and well-known kind of origami paper. It’s usually white on the back with a solid color or pattern on the front and a smooth texture. Kami is relatively thin, usually around 60 to 63 GSM, and it comes in a huge variety of different colors and patterns. This paper usually comes in 15cm x 15cm squares and can be used for almost any kind of origami. The word “kami” means paper in Japanese.
You can also get what’s known as Duo Kami, which is just like regular kami except there’s a different color on each side.
- Kami holds creases very well and is very easy to use.
- It’s inexpensive, and you can buy it in bulk (500+ sheets at a time).
- Perfect for simple or intermediate-level models, casual folding, and beginners.
- Comes in a huge variety of different colours and patterns.
- Kami isn’t super high quality and usually only comes in 15cm x 15cm squares. If you’re folding anything super complex, you’ll need bigger and higher-quality paper.
If you’re looking for the perfect paper for beginners or casual folding, you can’t go wrong with kami.
We recommend this 500-pack of regular white-on-the-back kami by Aitoh. If you’re looking for duo kami, this 200-pack of 10 different colors by Jong Ie Nara is also excellent.
If you’re interested in folding kusudamas Ekaterina Lukasheva (a master kusudama designer) recommends this package of 1,024 sheets with a gradient pattern. The paper is of excellent quality, and there are 32 sheets of 32 different colors, which is perfect for folding kusudamas that use 30 sheets of paper.
Tant – Incredibly Versatile Paper
This is probably the most versatile kind of origami paper. It’s made in Japan and also quite famous. Tant paper can be used to fold pretty much anything, from simple models to complex ones. It’s a stiff paper with a very delicately textured surface. The paper is pretty thin, around 70 to 80 gsm. It always comes in a single color, the same on both sides, and there are lots of color options.
- This paper is quite flexible and holds creases and shapes very well.
- There’s a huge amount of different color options available, and the color doesn’t fade over time.
- It’s very easy to color one side of the paper with ink or paint.
- Tant paper comes in a wide variety of different sizes. 7.5cm x 7.5cm to as big as 110cm x 80cm.
- This paper works really well with wet folding.
- The texture on the paper catches the light quite nicely, making it excellent paper to photograph. A camera flash doesn’t really cause reflections, and close-up photos of models folded with this paper look really great.
- Tant paper does tear easily, though, so be careful when you’re folding.
- Tant only comes in solid colors. If you want patterns, you’ll have to get a different type of paper.
Tant paper is easy to use and comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes, so you can fold pretty much anything you want, no matter how complex.
We recommend you check out this package of 100 sheets with 100 different colors. It’ll give you a beautiful rainbow of options for your origami projects.
Kraft – Perfect for Practicing and Test-Folding
Kraft is a type of paper that comes from Germany, where it’s usually used as gift-wrapping paper. The word “Kraft” means “strength” in German, and the name comes from the kraft press of turning wood into a wood pulp made up of almost pure cellulose fibers. Kraft paper is usually brown with a rough texture. Sometimes, though it’s brown on one side and colored or patterned on the other, it’s quite thin, around 30 GSM, and very strong.
- Kraft paper is perfect for practicing or testing out designs.
- It’s very easy to fold and holds shapes and creases very well.
- It’s perfect for wet folding.
- Kraft paper is very inexpensive.
- There are many different sizes, from 15cm x 15cm to 100cm x 100cm. You can even get giant rolls of it.
- One of the most generic types of paper.
- It’s quite difficult to reverse creases if you make a mistake
- The paper can get yellowish over time due to oxidation.
- It’s dull and brown. There aren’t really any nice colors or patterns. You’ll want something much nicer to fold anything you plan on displaying.
Kraft is not the nicest paper, but it’s quite cheap and is perfect for practicing your folding or testing out designs, so you don’t waste your good paper.
If you’re looking for an excellent package of test papers, check out this 10-color pack of 50 sheets of Kraft paper.
Washi, Chiyogami, and Yuzen – Uniquely Japanese
Washi is a traditional Japanese paper that’s made by hand using long plant fibers. This paper has a very unique Japanese look and feel, usually with traditional Japanese designs. It’s very thick paper and has a soft and rich feel, almost like fabric.
You may also come across Chiyogami or Yuzen paper. This is a type of washi paper that has very vibrant patterns with gold colors mixed in. This paper is used to make traditional Japanese Hina dolls.
- Washi is very strong and durable.
- This is a high-quality paper.
- It comes in stunning and unique Japanese-style designs.
- Washi is quite thick, which makes it a bit more difficult to fold, especially for complex models.
- This paper can be a little bit more on the expensive side.
If you’re specifically looking for this type of paper, double-check and make sure it’s actual washi, Chiyogami, or Yuzen paper. If it’s washi, Chiyogami, or Yuzen “style” paper, that’s actually just regular kami with this sort of pattern printed on. This is an example of what we’re talking about.
Mulberry Paper – Beautiful Hand-Made Paper
Mulberry paper is similar to washi paper. It’s a handmade paper made out of plant fibers from mulberry trees. It has a very unique look. You can see the plant fibers in each sheet, and every sheet is unique. Like washi paper, this paper is also much thicker than other types.
- This is one of the most beautiful-looking kinds of paper.
- It’s hard to use for origami because it’s thick and doesn’t hold creases very well.
- Often, you’ll need to treat the paper first to get it crisp enough to fold.
- It’s one of the more expensive kinds of paper.
Mulberry paper certainly looks nice, but it’s definitely not easy to use. If you’re interested in this paper, check out this beautiful package of 50 sheets with multiple colors.
Foil Paper – For a Metallic Look
Foil paper is shiny and reflective on one side, and the back of the paper is usually just white, although sometimes you can find other colors. It’s pretty thin, measures around 50 GSM, and has a smooth texture. To make this paper, a color is printed onto a roll foil, which is then glued to regular paper using acrylic styrene. After it’s dried, the paper is cut into squares and whatever shapes and sizes are needed.
- It holds creases very well, and you don’t have to wet fold it because it’s very easy to shape on its own.
- Because it’s so thin and easy to shape, it’s great for beginners and complex models.
- It comes in tons of different varieties from many different manufacturers.
- There are tons of different sizes, from super small 3cm x 3cm squares to as big as 50cm x 70 cm sheets.
- Foil paper ages really well.
- If you want a metallic look for what you’re folding, this paper is perfect.
- The foil holds creases almost too well. Any little folds or mistakes you make will stay there forever.
- The white back of the paper can look a bit weird if any of it is peaking out in a finished model.
- The foil is completely solid, so if you want any transparency, it won’t work. If you’re folding tessellations and you want light to shine through, you should use other paper.
If you’re folding anything that you want to give a metallic look, then this is the paper to use. It’s also perfect to fold anything from beginner-level to super complex since it’s so easy to fold and shape. Whatever you fold, though, will be shiny and metal-looking, which might not be what you want all the time.
For foil paper, we recommend you check out this package with 10 different colors of foil by Aitoh.
Glassine Paper – Translucent and Super Thin
Glassine is a translucent paper that’s made from cellulose. It’s smooth and air and water-resistant. It’s pretty thin at around 40 GSM and has almost a plastic look and feel. It almost feels like thin wax paper.
- This paper is perfect for tessellations, especially if you want light to shine through.
- It’s very easy to fold since it’s so thin.
- This paper comes in a variety of different sizes.
- Glassine holds creases very well, especially if you’re making large grids of folds.
- Glassine paper only comes in a few basic colors, nothing fancy.
- It’s quite challenging to reverse folds if you make a mistake.
The number one use for glassine paper is to fold tessellations or anything else you want light to shine through. Since it’s so thin and easy to fold, you can use it for pretty much anything else you want, even complex models. You’ll probably want to use different paper to fold things like animals though, especially if you want to display them.
You can try this 500 transparent paper sheet package by Folia, which is very similar to Glassine and sized for origami.
Specialty Origami Paper
These are different types of high-end paper usually used by advanced folders in specific situations. There are a lot of amazing and beautiful types of paper here, but they do tend to be a bit more on the expensive side.
Origamido Paper – Pretty Much the Best Paper There Is
Many different origami artists agree that Origamido paper is pretty much as close to perfection as you can get. This paper is handmade by Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander at the Origamido Studio. Every sheet of paper is a unique work of art.
Robert J. Lang describes this paper as “Thin, strong, crisp, takes a crease and isn’t overly weakened by folding.”
It’s a very thin paper and ranges between 20 to 50 GSM. The thickness can vary from sheet to sheet since it’s all handmade. The paper is made from various plant fibers, including Abaca, Hemp, Flax, Cotton, Liene, Kozo, Gampi, and Mitsumata, all blended together. The most common size of this paper is 40cm x 50cm, but other sizes are available.
- It’s super easy to use and perfect for folding complex models.
- The paper looks absolutely beautiful.
- You can get any color you can imagine since everything is handmade.
- This is definitely the best origami paper you can get. It blows all other papers away in terms of strength and thickness.
- It’s very exclusive and usually only available at the Origamido studio.
- It’s also a lot more expensive than other kinds of paper.
Origamido paper is impressive, but it’s definitely not for everyday folding. This is the paper you want to use when you’re folding something special.
If you’re ever in Haverhill, MA, in the United States, and you get a chance to visit the Origamido studio, definitely be sure to pick up some of this paper. The only other way you can get it is from Origami-Shop.com. They have a small quantity available on their website that you can order.
Tissue Foil – Combing the Benefits of Tissue Paper and Foil
Tissue foil is one of the easiest papers to use for origami. It’s a combination of foil and tissue paper. The foil makes it strong and stiff, while the tissue makes it more agile and looks nicer. In the past, the only way to get this paper was to make it yourself, which is a lot of work. It’s pretty thin, around 50 GSM. This paper is interesting because the foil part is spangled, which means it’s not reflective and metallic, looking like regular foil paper.
- This is one of the easiest kinds of origami paper to use since it’s so thin and strong.
- It comes in a few different sizes.
- Tissue foil can be used to fold anything from simple models to super complex ones.
- It holds creases very well, and the foil makes it very easy to shape curves and other 3D shapes.
- It’s only available in 9 different colors.
- This paper is more expensive than others.
This paper is one of the best kinds of paper for origami. There are only nine colors available, but they all look really great. The foil part isn’t shiny, so you can fold anything you want. It’s also really easy to use because it’s so thin and strong.
Origami-Shop.com exclusively sells tissue foil, and they have an excellent package of 26 sheets with 13 different colors here.
Lokta Paper – Hand Made in Nepal
Lokta is a beautiful paper that’s handmade in Nepal. It’s made from two species of evergreen shrubs called Daphne bholua and Daphne papyracea, which are more commonly known as Lokta bushes. These bushes only grow at 1,600m to 4,000m elevations (5,250 to 13,000 feet), and the paper is only produced in the Kathmandu Valley and Janakpur. Lokta is very strong, durable, and resistant to tearing, humidity, insects, and mildew. In Nepal, it’s used for official government records and sacred religious texts.
Regular Lokta is pretty thin, around 50 GSM, and there’s even a super slim 25 GSM version available, too. It does come in multiple sizes, the most common ones being 45cm x 45cm, 50cm x 60cm, and 50cm x 65cm.
- Lokta is absolutely beautiful, with lots of beautiful, vibrant colors available.
- The paper has a silky texture that’s perfect for imitating the fur of an animal.
- This paper is easy to use since it’s so thin and strong.
- It can be used to fold anything from beginner-level to super-complex models.
- This is definitely one of the more expensive kinds of origami paper.
Like Origamido, you only want to use Lokta for your absolute best work. It’s especially great for folding animals, too, since its texture naturally looks like animal fur.
Lokta is available from Origami-Shop.com. They have both the regular and super thin versions.
Unryu – Absolutely Beautiful
This is another one of the most beautiful kinds of origami paper available. It’s also handmade and very thin, around 27 GSM. The name Unryu means “Cloud dragon paper” in Japanese. It’s handmade from bark fibers from Kozo, Gampi, or Mitsumata Mulberry trees.
- There are tons of striking colors, and the paper has a translucent look.
- Every sheet is beautiful and unique, with elegant fibers throughout the paper.
- The paper is very soft, so you have to treat it with paint, glue, or foil before you fold it.
- This is another one of the most expensive kinds of origami paper.
- Unryu only comes in really large sizes, at least 40cm x 40cm.
- It’s really only used for super-complex models. Cutting it into smaller sizes for simpler models is a waste of paper.
This is an absolutely beautiful paper, and many other crafters and scrapbookers also use it. Using it takes a lot of work since you really have to prepare the paper before you can fold anything. You definitely should save this paper and only use it for your absolute best work. Because it’s so difficult to use, it’s definitely not for beginners either.
If you’re interested in Unryu, we recommend this package of 8 colors and 8 sheets.
Elephant Hide Paper
Elephant Hide paper is very interesting. It’s a specially made paper from a company called Zanders in Germany, and its manufacturing process is a secret. Many origami artists would argue that this is one of the best origami papers there is. Elephant Hide is officially described as “A rugged bookbinding paper with a parchment grain.” This paper also has an FSC Certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, which means the paper comes from responsibly managed forests, and you can feel good about using it. This is definitely one of the thickest origami papers and comes in 110 GSM and 190 GSM weights.
- It’s scratch and abrasion-resistant, dirt-repellant, and can be wiped clean.
- It holds folds very well.
- The paper has a beautiful marble-like texture, and every sheet is a bit unique.
- This paper has the perfect look and texture for folding elephants.
- Elephant Hide paper also photographs very well.
- This paper is very strong and hard to tear.
- This paper is ideal for wet folding and tessellations as well as round, organic, or 3D models.
- There are only a few different colors available.
- This paper isn’t great for anything super complex because it’s so thick.
- The thickness also makes it quite challenging to fold, especially for children.
- Elephant Hide is more on the expensive side.
You probably want to use this paper for specific folds. Anything that’s not too complex or that involves wet folding or curves. Of course, if you’re folding some origami elephants, this paper will look great.
Usually, this paper comes in A4 or other really large sizes, but you can get it from Origami-Shop.com pre-cut into squares. We recommend this pack of 7 sheets with each of the 7 colors if you want to try it out.
Lizard Hide Paper
Lizard Hide paper has an embossed texture, just like reptile skin. Like Elephant Hide, this paper is also quite thick, around 96 to 116 GSM. It’s specially made by Origami-Shop, which is the only place you can order it from.
- It’s perfect for folding lizards, dinosaurs, etc.
- This paper holds creases very well.
- It’s also water resistant.
- Lizard Hide paper works well with wet folding.
- Lizard Hide only comes in 7 different colors.
- Due to the thickness, it’s difficult for children to use or fold complex models.
- This paper is pretty weak. It tears easily and can break when you curve it.
- It’s also a little bit more on the expensive side.
The major feature of this paper is its unique texture, which makes it perfect for folding origami reptiles. Unfortunately, the lizard skin texture makes the paper pretty weak so you need to be very careful with it. If you’re folding lizards or dinosaurs that aren’t too complex, then they’ll look fantastic with this paper. For anything else though you’ll probably want to go with a different kind of paper.
There are several packages of lizard hide paper available from Origami-Shop.com.
Rhinoceros Hide or Kinumomi Paper
This is another textured paper that’s just like rhinoceros skin. It has an embossed and slightly crumpled texture. It’s a little bit less thick than Elephant Hide at 107 GSM.
- This paper is perfect if you’re folding a rhinoceros.
- It works quite well with wet folding for 3D, organic, and curved shapes.
- The paper and the texture look really great.
- It takes a lot of strength to make a good crease.
- It only comes in a few different colors.
- This is another pretty expensive kind of paper.
- The thickness makes it difficult to fold anything too complex. Beginners and children will have a hard time with this paper as well.
- This paper is very different when you fold with or against the grain. Folding with the grain is much easier and cleaner. When folding against the grain, the fold lines become distorted, and the process becomes more complicated.
If you specifically want to fold a rhinoceros, then this is probably the best-looking paper you can use. For folding anything else though, you’re probably better off going with a different kind of paper.
Rhinoceros Hide usually comes in large sheets, but you can get it cut into squares from Origami-Shop.com. This package of 8 sheets with one of the 5 different colors is a good choice.
Where to Buy Origami Paper Online?
Buying origami paper has never been easier with a wide range of online stores available. From e-commerce platforms to specialized origami shops, you can find papers in different colors, patterns, and sizes. Whether you are a hobbyist or an expert, these resources will help you find the best and most reliable origami paper for your folding adventures.
Amazon is probably the easiest and most convenient place to order origami paper online. They have a pretty wide selection of simple papers like Kami, Tant, Washi, Foil, and Kraft papers. The next time you put in an Amazon.com order, you can easily include some origami paper with it.
Origami-Shop.com is another absolutely fantastic place to order origami paper from. They have a pretty amazing selection of different origami papers. Because the site specializes in origami they have a lot of the fancier paper that you can’t really get anywhere else. They’re the only place you can really get Origamido or tissue foil paper. The site is based in France, but they ship worldwide and offer free shipping in a lot of countries.
They also have a sample package of 31 sheets with a variety of different kinds of paper that you can try out.
Etsy is an online marketplace where people from around the world connect to buy and sell unique handmade products. It has a really excellent selection of origami paper from all kinds of different sellers. You’ll find a lot of really nice patterns and colors that you won’t find anywhere else.
Etsy has a great selection of Yuzen and Chiyogami papers.
If you enjoy folding lucky stars Etsy has a ton of paper strips specially designed for lucky stars with all kinds of awesome patterns.