Origami, Plain and Simple

Origami, Plain and Simple

by Robert Neale, Thomas Hull

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Have you ever had the urge to create a frog out of a plain sheet of paper? How about a sea serpent, an elephant, an angel fish, or even a chess set? With this fun and easy-to-use primer, you can make such origami animals and projects come magically to life. Renowned paperfolder Robert Neale and his coauthor, Thomas Hull, present thirty original models, perfect for absolute beginners as well as more seasoned paperfolders looking for fresh, fun projects.

Each model is explained in simple terms, with supportive step-by-step instructions accompanied by intuitively clear diagrams that show each stage of the process. Projects begin with the basics and slowly progress in difficulty, ranging from simple folds (Frog with a Big Mouth, Owlet and Family, Scottie Dog); action folds (Talking Bird, Funky Swan, Somersaulting Frog); and modular folds (Sunburst, Three Wise Men, Chess Set); to trickier projects (Elephant Minor, Angel Fish, Bald Eagle). The authors also provide basic tips on how to fold as the masters do and make projects that come out looking the way you want them to.

Whether you're just starting out or you're a confirmed origami enthusiast for life, Origami, Plain and Simple is a perfect gift providing a repertoire of folding feats that's sure to entertain and challenge as it teaches the ins and outs of this captivating art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250230089
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/23/2018
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
File size: 105 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Robert Neale, the creator of the origami models in Origami, Plain and Simple, started paperfolding in 1958. He is a retired teacher of the psychology of religion, and has served as president of The Friends of the Origami Center of America. He lives in Vermont.

Thomas Hull
, the writer and illustrator of Origami, Plain and Simple, is a graduate student in mathematics. He lives in Rhode Island.

Robert Neale, the creator of the origami models in this book, started paperfolding in 1958. He is a retired teacher of the psychology of religion, and has served as president of The Friends of the Origami Center of America. He lives in Vermont.

Thomas Hull, the writer and illustrator of the book, is a graduate student in mathematics. He lives in Rhode Island.

Read an Excerpt


Folding Tips

Tip 1 There are two basic types of folds, and two types of dotted lines to describe them: With just an understanding of the difference between the mountain and valley folds, you should be able to tackle the models in this book with confidence. However, a list of symbols is provided at the end of the book for those who want to know more about the diagrams.

Tip 2 Be assertive! Crease firmly.

Wimpy creases can result in vague and ambiguous models.

Tip 3 Don't get in over your head!

Start with the simple models and work your way up.

Tip 4 Look before you leap!

When working on a certain step, look ahead at the next step to see what the result is supposed to look like.

On Paper

Most people do origami with special origami paper that is square and colored on one side and white on the other. People like origami paper because it folds well and comes in all sorts of wild colors. Such paper can usually be found in bookstores, art supply stores, or can be ordered from the organizations listed below.

The diagrams in this book assume that such paper is being used; the pictures show the white side of the paper as white, and the colored side as gray. Some of the models, like the Owlet and the inhabitants of the Frog Pond, use the white side of the paper for visual effects (to make eyes and such).

However, all that is really required to make these models is a square. Use construction paper, notebook paper, junk mail, magazine covers, napkins, rugs, or use your imagination!

Origami Information

For those who would like to know more about the art of origami, the two major American and British origami societies are listed. Both publish newsletters, organize origami conventions, run mail-order supply centers, and are highly recommended.

Simple Folds

Frog with a Big Mouth

This wonderfully simple fold captures an unmistakably "froggy" personality — just two legs and a big mouth!

1) White side up. Fold in half along a diagonal and open again.

2) Fold the other diagonal.

3) (Enlarged view) Fold the corners to the top.

4) Fold the two points down.

5) Fold the two points to the sides.

6) Open the mouth, turn over, and you're done!

Holy Shield

In this model, the center cross can be made as big, or as small, as you like. Just modify the folds in step 3!

1) White side up. Fold and unfold from side to side.

2) Repeat in the other direction.

3) Fold all four corners towards the center, but not all the way!

4) Be sure to make the gaps even. Turn over.

5) Now fold three flaps to the center ...

6) ... like this. Turn over, and you're done!

7) The completed holy shield.

The traditional Japanese holy shield used hole-cutting techniques which modern paperfolders frown upon.

Owlet and Family

Some of the steps in this model (specifically, steps 2, 4, and 8) may be done "to taste," giving individual character to each owl and owlet. These owls were inspired by the ideas of the famous Japanese paperfolder Akira Yoshizawa.

1) White side up. Fold and unfold along the diagonal.

2) Fold the left corner to the center line, but aim the top edge so that it "shoots" the right corner ...

3) ... like this. Fold the right corner to the left.

4) Fold the corners outward. (You're making the eyes!)

5) Fold the top point down.

6) Fold the bottom point behind.

7) Turn over.

8) Fold the top point down to taste.

9) Fold the bottom point up to the x-y line.

10) Crease the middle. (This will let the owl stand up.)

11) Turn over, and you're done!


1) Using a smaller square, follow steps 1-4 of the Owl.

2) Fold the bottom point behind.

3) Emphasize the vertical crease, and the Owlet is done!

Simple Fish

Don't let all the "pre-creases" in steps 1-4 scare you! They actually make the rest of the folding much easier.

1) White side up. Fold and unfold along both diagonals. Turn over.

2) Fold and unfold.

3) Fold the sides to the center line and unfold.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 in the other direction.

5) Fold the top and bottom edges to the closest line.

6) Repeat step 5 with the left and right edges.

7) Zoom in on the upper left corner.

8) Now pull out the original corner of the paper ...

9) ... like this. Zoom out.

10) Repeat steps 8 and 9 on the other three corners.

11) Fold along one of the diagonals away from you.

12) Fold along the existing crease.

13) Now tuck the small triangle behind the two layers underneath.

14) Cool. Turn over.

15) Repeat steps 12-14 on the other flap.

Simple Wallet

A square with side length 9-10 inches will produce a wallet that can hold business and credit cards.

1) White side up. Fold and unfold from side to side.

2) Fold and unfold the left and right sides to the center.

3) Then fold about a quarter-inch in on the left and right sides.

4) Fold the two top corners to the 1/4 creases as shown.

5) Then re-fold the 1/4 creases. The sides will not go all the way to the center!

6) The wallet should now look like this. Fold the top part behind as shown.

7) OK! Turn over.

8) Fold the bottom edge to the top.

9) Now tuck this flap into the pockets underneath. This will create some pockets for the wallet.

10) Close the wallet up ...

11) ... and you're done!

Many wallet variations can be made. Try your hand at the one on the right!

Elephantis Abstractum

This model showcases a new minimalist style of folding that has won Bob Neale's interest. It represents a careful study of form, elegance, and simplicity!

1) Colored side up. Fold the right edge to the left.

2) Then fold one layer to the right edge.

3) Make the diagonal crease as shown, bringing one layer only to the left ...

4) ... like this. Turn over.

5) Fold one layer of paper to the left.

6) This is similar to step 3. Be sure to look ahead to see what this move is supposed to look like!

7) The Abstract Elephant! Stand it on your coffee table, and watch the opinions fly!

Scottie Dog

1) White side up. Fold and unfold lengthwise in both directions.

2) Then fold and unfold one (and only one) diagonal.

3) Fold the two side corners to the center.

4) Fold the the right flap over, about 1/3 of the way. (This will determine how big the tail is.)

5) Fold the left flap underneath 1/3 of the way. (This will determine how big the snout is!)

6) Fold in half along the existing crease.

7) Careful here! Fold one layer up using the two corners shown as guides.

8) Like this! Turn over.

9) Repeat step 7 on this side.

10) Now slide your finger underneath and pull out some paper ...

11) ... like this! Fold the white flap down to meet the dog's head.

12) Wow! Repeat step 11 behind.

13) The completed Scottie Dog.


Action Folds

These folds incorporate mechanisms that allow you to perform an "action" with them.

Talking Bird

1) White side up. Fold and unfold the vertical diagonal.

2) Fold two sides to the diagonal. (Sometimes this is called an ice-cream-cone fold.)

3) Turn over.

4) Fold the bottom point to the top.

5) (Enlarged view) Fold the point back down.

6) Fold in half away from you.

7) Now raise the neck into position by swiveling the folded layers ...

8) ... like this. Press flat as shown ...

9) ... into this position. Now swivel the head into place ...

10) ... like this. Pull out two loose flaps from inside the model.

11) Fold the top layer only, using the existing crease as a guide.

12) Undo step 11.

13) Now, using the crease just made, fold the flap inside the bird.

14) Fold the other flap inside to meet the first one.

15) The Talking Bird completed!

To make the bird talk

Hold as shown, and pull the tail gently.

Funky Swan

A variation of the traditional swan, this model moves its head back and forth in a truly funky way!

1) White side up. Fold and unfold the vertical diagonal.

2) Fold two sides to the diagonal.

3) Fold to the diagonal again!

4) Turn over.

5) Fold the bottom point to the top.

6) (Enlarged view) Fold the point approximately 1/3 of the way down.

7) Turn over.

8) Fold the corner to the edge ...

9) ... like this. Repeat on the right.

10) Fold in half toward you.

11) Raise the swan's neck ...

12) ... like this. Press at the base of the neck to hold it in place.

13) Swivel the head up in the same way.

14) The Swan completed!

To activate the funk

While holding the tail with one hand, grab the tips of these two flaps underneath with another hand and pull.

Hold the flaps close to the neck for really good action!


This cobra is a real gem of a fold, but it has some tricky steps. Be persistent, and follow the directions carefully! The model was inspired by Paul Jackson's "Pecking Bird."

1) Follow steps 1-4 of the Funky Swan (here). Locate the point where the folded edges meet the center line and call this "the point."

2) Turn over, and fold the bottom tip to "the point" of step 1 fame.

3) Fold in half away from you.

4) Fold one layer to the right, making a crease along the folded edge. The model will not lie flat!

5) Fold the flap back to the left, making a crease along the right edge. Still not flat!

6) Repeat steps 4 & 5 behind. Then the model should lie flat.

7) Pull the flap from step 2 out and over the other layers.

8) View from the bottom ...

9) ... and turn the corner inside out (be assertive now) ...

10) ... to look like this (normal view, does not lie flat). Bring the flaps together to the left ...

11) ... to look like this. Swing the tail out to look cobraish.

12) Pinch the body to hold the tail in place. Open the head and look from the front.

13) Close-up of the head. Fold the tip down a little.

14) Like this. Are you scared yet?

15) You should be!

To make the Cobra strike

Push down on the tail to strike!

Squeeze the sides to pull the head up again.

Raven Mask

This mask works like a puppet.

Get ready to fulfill all your ventriloquist fantasies!

1) White side up. Fold and unfold both diagonals.

2) Bring two sides to the center line ...

3) ... like this. Then undo step 2.

4) Repeat steps 2-3 with the other half of the paper.

5) Now we have a bunch of creases. Fold the two on the left half at the same time ...

6) ... like this. Let the short flap point up (i.e., press it flat).

7) Repeat steps 5-6 on the right.

8) Fold the top point down behind.

9) (Enlarged view) Fold one layer up to the top.

10) Then fold the left edge of this flap down to the middle line ...

11) ... like this. Bring the flap back up.

12) Repeat steps 10-11 in the other direction.

13) Repeat steps 10-12 on the lower flap.

14) OK. We're doing several things at once here. Form the beak with the two flaps while bringing the back sides together ...

15) ... Step 14 in progress. Bring the back sides all the way together ...

16) ... like this! Fold one of the head flaps down below the beak-line. Repeat behind.

17) Now tuck the end of this flap behind the beak. Repeat behind.

18) Cool! Open the back and you're done!

To make the Raven talk

Open and close the back of the head, and the beak will open and shut!

Can you figure out how to add eyes to the Raven?

Somersaulting Frog!

This is a simple variation of the classic jumping frog. Bob added legs and the ability to do a midair "flip" as it jumps!

1) White side up. Fold the right edge to the left.

2) Fold the whole thing in half.

3) Then fold only one layer up.

4) Unfold steps 2-3.

5) Fold a diagonal in the upper half.

6) Unfold step 5.

7) Do the other diagonal.

8) Now hold as shown and let the creases do what they want. (Really!)

9) It should look like this. Fold the bottom edge up.

10) Fold the bottom edge up again, but this time unfold.

11) Bring the sides together, under the triangle.

12) Spread the two bottom flaps apart, so it looks ...

13) ... like this! Make diagonal creases to bring the flaps down.

14) The paper will feel thick, but fold the center edges of the flaps to the crease line ...

15) ... like this. Then make arms ...

16) ... yeah. Fold the lower half up (use the existing crease).

17) OK. Now the paper will be very thick. Persist, though, by folding the feet down so that the "feet edge" almost meets the folded edge ...

18) ... like this. Coolness! Turn over and you're all done.

To activate the jump

You can also make the somersaulting Frog with a dollar bill or a 3×5 index card. Try it!

"Kiss Me" Greeting Card

The beginning origamist quickly learns how well-suited origami is for various holiday gifts — on Valentine's Day, for example!

1) White side up. Fold and unfold from side to side.

2) Fold the sides to the center and unfold.

3) Fold in half away from you.

4) Fold both top corners to the center as shown.

5) Fold the bottom edges of these flaps to the folded edge.

6) Undo steps 4 and 5.

7) Squash the upper left corner while folding the lower left edge to the center line.

8) Zoom in on the left.

9) Fold the flap back to the left, but at the same time lift the white edges up. Use existing creases!

10) Step 9 in progress ...

11) ... like this. Repeat steps 7-10 on the right.

12) Normal view. Now open the model completely!

13) White side up. Rotate 90 degrees.

14) Fold the top and bottom to the center, using existing creases.

15) Fold in half while allowing the creases from step 9 and 11 to take shape. Then you're done!

To activate the kiss

Just open!

Throwing Dart

Although slightly more advanced, this fold really flies!

1) Colored side up. Fold and unfold both diagonals. Then turn over.

2) Fold and unfold from side to side.

3) Fold the top side to the bottom.

4) Pinch the two top corners and swing the bottom corners together ...

5) ... like this. Flatten by swinging a flap to the left and a flap to the right.

6) (Enlarged view) Fold the lower left and right edges to the center line.

7) Fold the top point down as shown.

8) Unfold steps 6 and 7.

9) Lift one layer of paper up. Use the crease from step 7!

10) Fold the flap all the way up. Let the sides come together ...

11) ... like this. Repeat steps 6-10 behind.

12) Grab the two top flaps and pull ...

13) Fold in half length-wise and flatten ...

14) ... like this. Pinch the small flap and flatten it downward. Repeat behind.

15) Fold one "layer" to the left.

16) Fold the bottom point to the top.

17) Awesome. Fold the top flap down.

18) Repeat step 17 behind.

19) Now fold one layer to the right, but do not crease all the way (see the next step).

20) Crease only as far as the center line. Then unfold step 19.

21) Repeat steps 19-20 on the right.

22) Repeat steps 19-21 behind.

23) Pinch the sides and swing the top corners together ...

24) ... like this! Make the model flat by swinging the flaps to the left and right.

25) Fold one top flap inside the model.

26) Press firmly on the dart's "head." Then turn over.

27) Repeat step 25.

28) Press firmly. Fold one leg to the left. Repeat behind.

29) Then repeat steps 25-27.

30) Make the legs perpendicular to each other, and you're done!

To throw the Dart

Hold the Dart under the nose between thumb and forefinger. Then give it a good throw.

The layers of paper at the Dart's head make it correctly weighted for flight!

WARNING: When made well, the Dart's nose can be quite sharp. Use discretion when throwing the Dart at people.


Modular Folds

The models in this section require folding more than one sheet of paper and joining them together to make the final object.


In this modular fold, we make eight identical "units" and then link them together without glue to produce a Pinwheel that can be transformed into a Ring!

To make a unit

1) White side up. Fold and unfold.

2) Fold the two right-hand corners to the center line.

3) Fold in half!

4) (Enlarged view) Fold the upper left corner down and unfold.

5) Reverse the upper left corner inside the model ...

6) ... like this. The module is done! Make 8 of 'em.

To link 'em together

1) Bring the flaps of one piece around another as shown.

2) Then tuck the excess flaps around the other module so that they hug it tightly!

3) Hug another unit in the same way.

4) Continue hugging with the remaining five units.

5) The completed Pinwheel!

To grab the ring

1) Pinch at the marks and gently pull ...

2) Kinda neat, eh? Keep pulling ...

3) ... and end up with a Ring!

Ornamental Thingie

Origami tends to hang very well, as this model shows. Hang one from your chandelier or, better yet, make a pair of earrings out of them!

This model was independently discovered by Brenda Rivera and Robert Neale.


Excerpted from "Origami, Plain and Simple"
by .
Copyright © 1994 Robert Neale and Thomas Hull.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Folding Tips,
On Paper,
Simple Folds,
Frog with a Big Mouth,
Holy Shield,
Owlet and Family,
Simple Fish,
Simple Wallet,
Elephantis Abstractum,
Scottie Dog,
Action Folds,
Talking Bird,
Funky Swan,
Raven Mask,
Somersaulting Frog,
"Kiss Me" Greeting Card,
Throwing Dart,
Modular Folds,
Ornamental Thingie,
Three Wise Men,
Sea Serpent,
The Squared Square (& Cube),
Chess Set,
Frog Pond,
Frog Head with a Big Mouth,
Frog with a Big Mouth in Flight,
Frog with a Big Mouth, Tongue, and Eyes,
Getting Tricky,
Elephant Minor,
Angel Fish,
His Lady's Voice,
Da Wabbit Wewised,
Bald Eagle,
Tessellating Fish,
Elephant Major,
About the Authors,
List of Symbols,

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