Origami Swans for Beginners

origami swan

With a few basic paper-folding skills, you too can create origami swans. For beginners, this model is perfect. In less than 10 steps, the swan is complete.

Origami for Beginners

For newcomers to origami, simple models provide everything you need to get started in paper folding. They offer an introduction to basic folds, as well as how to read origami diagrams. What does a dash-line mean? What about arrows? With simple origami, these questions are answered, simply.

How to Read Instructions and Diagrams

All origami books, kits, and packets of paper come with a crash course explaining how to read diagrams. For simple origami, like the origami swan for beginners, you'll primarily be dealing with valley and mountain folds, which are defined by the dash and the dash-dot-dash respectively. What's more, arrows indicate the direction of the fold and a solid line means to crease. With this basic knowledge, you're ready to tackle some folds.

Basic Folds

Most origami models are comprised of valley folds and mountain folds. If you have ever folded paper, chances are you've already made these basic folds countless times.

  • Valley fold: This is how most origami models begin. The most basic of folds, a valley fold folds the paper onto itself. Generally, this results in a rectangle or triangle. The crease is on the bottom. (-----)
  • Mountain fold: This is the second most basic fold. Here, the paper is folded behind or away from itself. The crease is on the top. For precision, folders will often turn the model over and fold a valley fold, then turn it over again before the next step. (-·-·-·-)
  • Another way to think of these two folds is as concave (valley) and convex (mountain). Here are some photos of these folds so you can see the difference.

First Models: Origami Swans for Beginners

The origami swan is a perfect model for novices. Fewer than 10 steps is all it takes to create this elegant design.


  • A square piece of paper
  • A 3" square will produce a swan the size of a packet of sugar. A standard 6" square will create one that fits in the palm of your hand.


  1. To begin, fold a kite base. To make a kite, valley-fold the paper into a triangle, and unfold. Next, valley-fold the lower edges to the centerline, which should run vertically. You've just folded the kite base. (See diagram.)
  2. Turn model over.
  3. Valley-fold the lower edges to the center line once more. Crease. You model will resemble a slimmer kite.
  4. Fold the bottom point of the model up, so that it almost touches the top. Crease. This is the swan's neck.
  5. Next, fold the point of the neck about one-quarter of the way down. Crease. This is the swan's head.
  6. Lengthwise, fold the entire swan in half.
  7. Holding the body, pull the swan's neck forward. (See photo.)
  8. Adjust to preference and display. Now create an entire family!

Tip: To test your ability to read diagrams, try working from instructions that only include diagrams, with no text. You'll find most origami models are self-explanatory, communicating each step with dash lines, solid lines, and arrows.

Tutorials and Diagrams

It's also sometimes easier to see someone else fold a model first. This is why origami diagrams are so important. It's literally seeing the model folded in pictures. With the Internet, video tutorials are also available, enabling you to see how each fold is done. Oftentimes this helps, as you can always pause a clip to catch up. It's that simple.

For beginners making origami swans, the following diagrams and videos should prepare you to make your very own graceful Trumpeter in no time.

  • Howcast.com: Watch a video demonstrating how to fold an origami swan in less than two minutes and only eight steps.
  • Origami-Instructions.com: Scroll down and find a step-by-step for folding an origami swan.
  • Marcels-Kid-Crafts.com: A photo tutorial designed especially for kids.
  • Gilad's Origami: In time, you might make a swan like this, which features a curved neck and rounded body.
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