Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, has been around for centuries. Origami works range from simple and fun to complex and awesome. Butterfly origami is an easy beginner's work, making it a great choice for children's activities. You just need a square piece of paper, and with a few folds, you'll have a beautiful piece of paper! Give your butterfly as a gift, stick it in a gift wrap, or use it to decorate a room.
Part 1 of 3: Making Origami Ship Base Folds
Step 1. Start with a square piece of paper
If you are using origami paper, you will have one glossy and/or patterned side – this is the face side. Place your paper face down.
A 15 x 15 cm square of paper is a good size for beginners. If you want to make the butterfly larger or smaller, adjust the paper size accordingly
Step 2. Make a valley crease
Align the bottom edge of the paper to the top edge of the paper and smooth out the crease with your finger, starting from the center point to the outside. Unfold the paper so that the crease remains.
In the valley fold, you fold the paper to create a bend, so that the sides of the paper that are facing up are now folded on top of each other. The resulting bend is “under” the folded sides, hence the name “valley.”
Step 3. Make a vertical valley fold in the middle
Align the right edge to the left edge and fold in with your finger, then unfold.
- Steps 2 and 3 are combined in this video.
- Now you have two valley folds: one horizontal and the other perpendicular in the middle.
Step 4. Rotate your paper 45 degrees
Rotate your paper counter-clockwise so that the bottom-left corner is now facing down toward you.
Step 5. Make a horizontal valley fold
Carefully bring the bottom corner to the top corner, fold it, and unfold it.
Step 6. Make a vertical valley fold
Bring the right corner to the left corner, fold it, and unfold it.
Steps 5 and 6 are shown in this video
Step 7. Rotate your paper 45 degrees
Rotate your paper clockwise or counterclockwise so that the edges (not the corners) are facing you.
There should now be four valley folds meeting in the middle: a vertical fold, a horizontal one, and two diagonal folds
Step 8. Fold the left and right sides to meet the center vertical crease
Align the right edge of the paper with the center vertical crease and trim. Repeat on the left side.
- Do not unfold these folds.
- This is called the "gate fold."
Step 9. Lift and slightly unfold the diagonal creases at the top left and right corners
Insert your thumbs under the folded corners, holding the bottom half of the paper firmly with the other hand.
Step 10. Fold the top edge into a “roof” shape
Align the top edge with the horizontal crease in the middle. At the same time, unfold the fold you pinched in the previous step, pulling it apart downwards so that the top meets the center crease.
Now the top of the paper looks like the roof of the house
Step 11. Rotate your paper model 180 degrees
Now your "roof" is upside down, facing you.
Step 12. Repeat steps 7 and 8 at the top
When you're done, you'll have an origami shape called a "bottom of a ship," a starting point for many different works.
Part 2 of 3: Making the Wings
Step 1. Turn your paper over
The edge that was folded in the previous step should be facing down. The corners of the "ship" should point to the side, with the two long ends extending horizontally from the top and bottom.
Step 2. Fold the top half down
Join the top edge to the bottom edge and smooth the valley crease with your fingers.
Step 3. Do a valley fold on the top right fold down
Holding the trapezoidal paper so that the long end is on top (as at the end of step 2), lift the top right corner and bring it to the center of the vertical line below it. Fold the bend with your finger.
- The corner of the fold is now pointing down towards you.
- Keep in mind that the right corner has several layers: you will be folding only the top.
Step 4. Repeat step 3 on the left crease
When you're done, both corners will be facing down toward you.
Step 5. Make a small valley crease on the left crease fin
Examine the left crease fin you just made, noting the mountain fold (upward-facing crease) diagonally from the vertical midpoint and ending at the side corners. Lift the side corners slightly, moving them in and up towards the center (but not completely). Smooth the crease with your finger.
The fold should extend from the top edge to halfway between the corners you lift and the low point of the fold fin
Step 6. Repeat steps 5 and 6 on the right fold fin
Since there is no more bending of the guide for these folds, try to make the left and right folds the same size.
This video shows steps 6 and 7
Step 7. Turn your paper model over
The folds you just made are now facing down on the surface of your paper, with the fins still facing down.
Step 8. Make a vertical half of the valley fold on the paper model
Bring the left corner to the right and sharpen the crease with your finger.
Part 3 of 3: Forming the Body of the Butterfly
Step 1. Make a diagonal valley fold on the top wing
Lift the top “wing” (which now extends to the right) and fold it back (to the left), forming a fold that starts 1 cm from the top left corner and extends diagonally to the bottom left corner of the top flap fin. Bend it with your finger then unfold it
Step 2. Turn your paper model over
Now the ends of the wings should be facing left, and the crease you just made is facing down onto your work surface.
Step 3. Repeat Step 1 on the other top wing
This time, fold up and back, towards the right. Make a crease starting at the right corner of the top edge at a distance of 1cm and extending down towards the bottom right corner of the top crease fin. Fold and unfold.
Step 4. Open the wings
Orient the paper model so that the center vertical fold becomes a “mountain” fold, or faces up.
Step 5. Pinch the folds you made in steps 1-3
This is the butterfly body.
Push the wings back along the crease to strengthen the fold
Step 6. Give your butterfly as a gift, or use it as a decoration
Try making with more colors and sizes.