If you're interested in folding animals, you'll love making an origami tiger. Although this is a project best attempted by those with intermediate level folding skills, it creates a great three-dimensional paper tiger.
How to Fold a Tiger
If you're new to origami, practice your skills with some simpler projects like a basic origami cat before trying to make a tiger. Once you're ready for a challenge, go slowly and be patient with yourself. This is a complicated model, but the end result is well worth the effort.
Things You'll Need
- Two pieces of orange origami paper or orange construction paper, preferably 8" or larger squares
- Folding tool, if desired
- Clean, smooth folding surface
- Glue stick (optional)
- Fine tipped black marker
Make the Bird Base Forms
This origami tiger uses two bird bases. The bird base is a common origami form used to make models such as the classic paper crane.
To make a bird base, start with the colored side face down. Fold the paper in half so the two straight sides match up. Crease the fold and unfold it. Repeat this fold so the other two straight sides meet. Again, crease and unfold the paper.
Flip the paper over. Make diagonal creases in the paper by bringing the two opposite points together, creasing the fold, and unfolding. Do this with both sides. When you unfold your paper, it will have several creases going from the center.
Use the creases to collapse the paper into a layered square. In origami, this is called a square base.
Orient the square so the point with several layers is facing toward you. Grasp the left corner of the top layer and fold it in toward the middle. Repeat this step with the right corner of the top layer. This will create a kite shape out of the top layer.
Fold the top part of the kite down and crease the fold. Unfold.
Bring the bottom of the top layer to the top of the model. Gently flatten the folds to make a long diamond shape.
Turn the paper over and repeat these steps with the other side. This completes your first origami bird base. Repeat to make a second identical bird base form with the other square of paper.
Make the Tiger's Head
The first bird base you made creates the tiger's head and front legs.
Place your bird base in front of you with the two open points facing you. Inside reverse fold these points. Inside reverse folds are made by mountain folding the paper, then carefully prying it apart and pushing the tip down so it is in between the two sides of the paper.
Fold the shape in half along the middle vertical axis. Turn it so the two open parts that will become the tiger's front legs are at the bottom. Outside reverse fold the other end of the shape to start the tiger's head. Outside reverse folds are made by valley folding the outer layer of the paper, opening the outer layer of the paper slightly, and folding the corner part outward. (If you're having trouble with inside reverse folds or outside reverse folds, Origami Instructions has a great tutorial with photos and videos. )
Shape the tiger's head by folding the top of the shape down. Tuck the bottom point under. Make two small slits on the top of each side, cutting the top layer only. Fold these points up and out to form the tiger's ears.
Make the Tiger's Rear
The second bird base is used to make the tiger's rear legs and tail. Place your bird base in front of you with the two open points facing you. Inside reverse fold these points out like you did when you made the tiger's head and front legs. Lay the paper in front of you with the largest section facing left. Fold the top flap over to the right. This starts the tiger's tail.
Fold the top and bottom sections of the right flap in so they are almost touching the middle horizontal center of this section. Press the sections above and below this flap flat as needed.
Fold the far left point to the right so it is touching the layered middle section of your model.
Fold the model in half horizontally.
Connect the Pieces
To finish your origami tiger, tuck the non-head end of the first shape into the pocket in the bottom of the second shape, making sure the center creases of both shapes match up. The model should stay together without adhesive, but you may want to add a little glue to help secure the two parts.
Make two inside reverse folds to shape the tail. Make two inside reverse folds to shape each of the tiger's legs.
Add stripes and facial features as desired using your fine tipped black marker. This helps give your tiger a more realistic appearance.
More Origami Animals
Once you've mastered the origami tiger, try your hand at other animals. The dragon and Pegasus are popular choices with expert folders, and you can't go wrong with either. Soon you'll have a zoo full of paper creatures!