I started origami many years ago, and i began to slowly move away from one-piece origami and towards modular origami. This is a large 3D modular origami swan that I have made many prototypes to and found this to be the best size and the most awe inspiring for myself and many others.
This instructable has video files attached that will show most of the steps. to watch the video just double click on the video file to open it in another tab and watch it.
Step 1: Cut Your Pieces
First The first step to making an origami swan is to get 20 sheets of 8.5 X 11 printer paper. Then you must cut the paper width-wise five times. to cut it take the paper and fold it hamburger style and cut along the crease. now do the same with the half sheet of paper and so on until you have folded and cut it five times. This step takes a long time at first, but if you have a paper cutter with a ruler attached then it will be very very simple.
I used an Xacto knife and just eyeballed it for the first couple of years. These pieces don't have to be exact, but just roughly the right size will do.
Step 2: Fold the Module
Now that you have all 20 sheets cut, then the next step is to fold them all into the modules. follow the instructions below and the pictures above to fold the modules
fold each piece in half length-wise, and then fold in half width-wise. Then open the last fold, which is the width way, and fold the bottom left side to meet the inside crease and do the same to the bottom right side. Next, flip it over and fold the outside corners into the edge of the paper, now fold the flaps down over the edge of the paper and fold it in half over the center so the flaps you folded down are now on the inside. One module has now been finished. Now you must repeat those steps until you have 592 modules.
This seems tedious and extremely time consuming, but it is very relaxing and meditative especially if you absently fold them while listening to music, an audiobook, or while watching a movie. Your hands will learn the correct moves and you will be able to start skipping the second fold and just eyeball the folds inside. Again, it is not crucial that you have every single piece perfect. I have used some really messed up modules to make an entire swan and it still looked just as stunning as any other.
Step 3: The Base of the Swan
Now we will start assembling the base. for this you will need 80 modules. You will notice that each module will have two legs and two pockets. To assemble them you will put the leg of one into the pocket of another, but you must make sure to keep them alternating like bricks so that each new module you put on is resting on two different modules.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: the modules have a pointy 45 degree side and a less pointy 90 degree side. make sure that the pointy sides are all facing out on the base and the rest of the swan unless otherwise directed like when you reverse the curvature of the form to make the head.
so to put it another way grab one module and take the right leg and insert it into the left pocket of another module. With the left leg of the first module, place it inside the right pocket of a third module. Continue adding modules on top then on bottom until you have used all 80 modules like the first video shows. 40 on the top row and 40 on the bottom row. Now that you have this line you must connect the two ends together so that you now have a ring like the second video shows.
Step 4: Build-up Your Body
Now this step is where things start getting really fun. Add 6 more layers on top of the first 2 layers that formed the base. This will give you more height and body to your swan and is very important to have all 8 total layers before you start the wings, head, and tail.
Step 5: Tail, Neck, and Head
This step is where the swan becomes recognizable and is my favorite part.
TAIL: Then, to assemble the tail of the swan, add only three more modules onto the ninth layer then two more above those and one above that. To make the tail more defined, add one extra onto the very top. (First video)
NECK AND HEAD: Straight across from the tail, start by adding five modules and then add four on that, then thereon that , then two, one, then add two on the point of the pyramid by covering half of the top module and the point right next to and below it, then add one on top of that, keep adding modules and curving the neck backwards until the top edge of the pieces become horizontal to the surface it is sitting on. Then flip the pieces backwards, add them two, then one then two then one again until the neck comes back around to the desired curvature. (Second and third videos)
Step 6: Wings
Now that the head, neck, and tail are finished, we must make the wings. from the base of the head skip two points, (one space) and begin placing modules all the way back towards the tail. The base of the wing will have 13 modules. Then just go up and half a step in and put 12, then 11, then 10 all the way up to one. Do this on both sides and you will have finished your wings.
Step 7: Finally
Whew... We are finally done. This is your finished swan, but you can still kind of form and work the curves of the wings and the head to your liking. This is important to get the right curves so it does not look wrong.
This is a perfect centerpiece for a mantel place, or in a china or curio cabinet. It will make a perfect gift for a loved one and will usually inspire and impress all who see it. These are great items for gift boutiques and you can make them specialized colors or with highlights or certain colored pieces throughout.
There are indues possibilities of things that you can make with these 3D modular pieces. I made a vase with 2400 modules, and the yellow swan is a swan with a 30 module base instead of the 40 that I like best. I also made a coiling cobra snake that you can see and for that i used larger pieces to fold the modules from so the snake would be larger proportions. It is about half a meter tall 18 Inches exactly. So as you can see there are many things that you can make that are very beautiful.
Thank you for reading this instructable, and i hope it will help you with making one of your own.
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