Origami tessellations are essentially patterns, folded with origami, that repeat themselves as long as you want to continue folding.

There are 2 major types of tessellations, the classic type and corrugations.

 

Classic tessellations are usually based on either a square or hexagonal grid. The paper in these tessellations is folded into an odd number of layers to make the shapes and patterns.

There’s always an odd number of layers since the paper needs to always be folded back on itself to continue the pattern.

Because different sections of the tessellations have different numbers of layers you can turn on a light behind the tessellation for some neat effects.

Corrugations are made with one layer and the tessellation pattern is formed with wrinkles and waves in the paper. You can see the entire surface of the paper and it doesn’t look that neat to put a light behind it.

There are a couple other types of tessellations and even combinations of them in the same model. This post features a collection of mostly classic tessellations and corrugations.

Our first image for this post is a basket weave classic tessellation. It was photographed at an origami convention.

Basket Weave Tessellation - Joel Cooper (Folded by Tom Crain)

Basket Weave Tessellation, Designed by Joel Cooper and Folded by Tom Crain (Photo by Evan Zodl)

Instructions not available

 

This next model is an example of a corrugation. You can see how the paper is folded into waves and is all one layer, especially when compared to the previous example.

Adulthood, tessellated

Adulthood, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

Here’s a flowery looking classic tessellation.

Double Triangle Sawtooth

Double Triangle Sawtooth, Designed by Miguel Blanco Munoz and Folded by Beth Johnson

Instructions available in Origami Tessellations: Awe-Inspiring Geometric Designs

 

Here’s another excellent corrugation. It’s design is based on M. C. Escher’s Ascending and Descending stairs artwork.

Escher Stairs

Escher Stairs, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

This next image is a third type of tessellation called a Recursive Tessellation. These tessellations are kind of fractal in design with the pattern getting smaller towards the middle and larger towards the outside.

20130516 A Star

A Star, Designed and Folded by Jun Mitani

Crease pattern available from Jun Mitani’s website

 

Here’s an example of a tessellation with a backlight.

Heptamerous ver 3 - the other top

Heptamerous ver 3, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

This is an absolutely incredible tessellation. Alessandro Beber is an expert at weaving in different shapes and designs into the pattern.

penrose+

Penrose+, Designed and Folded by Alessandro Beber

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another fantastic example of an origami corrugation.

Origami Inspiration L

Inspiration-L, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

Image source

 

Here’s a fantastic classic style tessellation pattern.

Mystery

Mystery, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

I’ve the 3D look of Alessandro Beber’s tessellations.

"promises"

Promises, Designed and Folded by Alessandro Beber

Instructions not available

 

In this next image you can see how you can continue the pattern indefinitely if you have large enough paper.

Origami Tessellation

Spread Rhombi, Designed and Folded by Peter Keller

Instructions not available

Image source

 

Here’s another awesome corrugation.

NSNS

NSNS, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

This tessellation is designed to look like a series of pagodas.

Bagan - side view

Bagan, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

Here we have a beautiful tessellation that’s sort of a mixture between classic tessellations and corrugations.

Circle Tess

Circle Tessellation, Designed by Benjamin Parker and Folded by Beth Johnson

Instructions not available

 

A lot of these tessellations almost look like the magic eye images. You can almost get lost in them when you stare for a while.

Go THIS Way - side D

Go THIS Way – side D, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another one of Alessandro Beber’s awesome 3D-looking designs.

space 0

Space 0, Designed and Folded by Alessandro Beber

Instructions not available

 

This next model is a very unique idea creating an origami tessellation with a set of paper trees. The end result is a pretty cool looking forest.

The Rules of the Jungle

The Rules of the Jungle, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

This tessellation is an excellent example of how tessellations don’t have to be based simple geometric shapes. You can also create great curved or organic looking patterns.

Origami Tessellation

Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

Image source

 

Ekaterina Lukasheva also made a time lapse video showing the model being folded.

 

Here’s another excellent corrugation design.

Hidden Garden

Hidden Garden, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

Here’s a kind of delicious looking tessellation.

Sahnehäubchen / Icings Variation Ib

Icings Variation Ib, Designed and Folded by Melina Hermsen

Instructions not available

 

This tessellation is also inspired by M.C. Escher.

Which way is up?

Which way is up? Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another awesome 3D optical illusion-like tessellation.

Cubes Tessellation #1

Cubes Tessellation #1, Designed and Folded by Alessandro Beber

Instructions not available

 

This next tessellation has quite a different design and shows that you can combine different patterns and shapes to make something unique.

Origami Samsara Wheel

Samsara Wheel, Designed Alessandro Beber and folded by Dzmitry Lysiuk

Instructions not available

Image source

 

I quite like how you can see both sides of this tessellation. It’s cool seeing how the back of it looks, in many cases the back of the pattern also has a really cool look.

Penrose Triangle Tessellation (#2, front & back)

Penrose Triangle Tessellation, Designed and Folded by Alessandro Beber

Instructions not available

 

Our final model for this post is something very unique. Ilan Garibi used origami tessellation techniques to make this paper QR code. The crazy thing is that this QR code actually works. If you hold your phone up to your monitor you can actually scan it!

This model uses 64 sheets of paper.

Pixelated Froebel

Pixelated Froebel, Designed and Folded by Ilan Garibi

Instructions not available

 

If you want to get into origami tessellations we recommend you check out the book Origami Tessellations: Awe-Inspiring Geometric Designs by Eric Gjerde. It has some great beginner level tessellations if you’re just starting out as well as some much harder ones if you’re looking for a challenge.