Elegant Life-Like Origami Swan




Introduction: Elegant Life-Like Origami Swan

Hello all,
This is a tutorial to create a 3-D origami swan.
This project does not take a lot of money...just a lot of time. That time pays off though because you get to create an attention-grabber and especially unique decoration or gift for others. I have made multiple swans like this. I always impress myself and others with its complex look. It is actually very simple however.  I hope you guys like this tutorial and find it useful.

Note about Author:
I am a fourteen year old. I go to a community college instead of going to high school. I love video games, programming, and soccer. I am fascinated by the art of origami. I watch multiple animes such as Bleach, Naruto, Deathnote, and Pandora Hearts. I want to major in Computer Systems. I hate having to have so many I's in one paragraph. My fav. song is Harder, Better, Faster by Daft Punk. My fav. movie is Sherlock Holmes: Shadow Games. My fav. color is blue. I hope you now get to know me a little bit more after showing you all my favorite things. Please vote for this instructable for the gift contest.

Step 1: Materials

About 500 pieces of paper ($5)
Glue or Tape
(Optional) Paper clip
(Optional) Scissors
(Optional) Different colors of paper
(Optional) A couple of friends

The cost for this project is only about $5 or 10 which is no big deal. You want to have a lot of time and friends.

Paper Clip Option: The paperclip will hold up the neck of the swan so you can look and evaluate it a little before you use glue.

Friend Option: The reason you want to have friends is having them help you work. It cuts your time in half or thirds depending on how many friends that help. I had no help and this took me about 15 hours just to make the triangles.

Scissors Option: The reason for scissors is you can make a small swan. Note that the big swan takes longer than the little swan. I will be talking about how many times you cut the paper for the small swan but the instructions are otherwise the same.

Colored Paper Option: Who doesnt want their swan to look colorful? The colored paper gives you the choice to choose what color you would like to make it.

Step 2: The Triangle

The triangle is what makes up the swan. You need to memorize how to make this simple component.

Look at the pictures for further instruction. The dotted line is where you are supposed to fold.

Step 1: Fold paper in half lengthwise--Look at photo

Step 2: Fold paper in half widthwise-- Look at photo.

Step 3: Unfold Step 2

Step 4: Take right and left corners of folded side (the one with the crease) and bring them down to the crease in the middle making a tranglular shape

Step 5: Flip over triangular shape 

Step 6: At the bottom you will see two "flaps" that have a cut in between them. Take the outer edge of both and fold them towards the bulky triangle. Making a small triangle fold.

Step 7: Fold the two "flaps" toward the bulky triangle (upwards). Making it a complete triangle shape.

Step 8: Fold both sides towards you.

Step 9: Make 390 more triangles

Step 3: Know the Triangle

This is going to be about getting to know the triangles you just made. You might think this is obvious but it is important to know this for the next part.

Step 1: Look at the 2 "points" on the more forward part of your triangle (highlighted in blue on photo) these will be called the "legs"
Step 2: Look at the 2 openings on the more back part of you triangle (highlighted in blue on the 2nd photo) these will be called the "slots"

Step 4: Base: 1st and 2nd Layer

Now you are ready to build your swan!!! This is going to be the hardest part in this instructable.  So be ready!!

Please refer to photos while attempting this.

Step 1: Gather 60 triangles
Step 2: Take the left leg of  triangle(1)  and slip it into the right slot of another triangle(2)  (try to make both triangles the same position as it is in the picture). The remaining right leg should hang over your work space not the other slot. If it does look at the photo and re-correct yourself accordingly.
Step 3: Once you have completed Step 2,  take a new triangle(3) and put its left slot into the right leg of the triangle(1) (the triangle has the left leg already inserted in another triangle).
Step 4: Take another triangle(4) and put the left leg into the right slot of triangle(3).
Step 5: Repeat this concept of filling all the legs of the outer layer(2) and filling all the slots of the inner layer(1).
Step 6: Once you have used all of your triangles (30 on layer(2) and 30 on layer(1)) connect the last leg (the one that is not in a slot) and insert it into the last slot (the one that does not have a leg in it). Look at the first photo to see if you did it correctly.If you have multiple unfilled slots and unused legs then re-look at the instructions and pictures because you are doing something wrong :).
Advice: You should put your hand in the inner circle and push the second layer into the first layer. The 1st and 2nd layers are pretty flimsy.

Step 5: Base: 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Layer

Hop on the happy train cause its all uphill from here (if you catch my drift :). So, we are going to be making the rest of the base in this part.

REMEMBER PICTURES!!! (Just had to tell you:)

Step 1: Take 30 triangles from your pile.
Step 2: Take the left leg of one triangle on the second layer and the right leg of the triangle next to it (should be right next to each other). Then take one triangle and insert the left leg into its left slot and insert the right leg into the right slot.
Step 3: Repeat 30 times. You will see there is another layer applied--Layer 3.
Note: Position the triangles the way that is shown in the picture.
Step 4: Take 30 more triangles (this will be the fourth layer).
Step 5: Repeat Step 2 until out of triangles
Step 6: Take another 30 triangles (this will be the fifth layer)
Step 7: Repeat Step 2 until out of triangles
Step 8: Take 30 triangles (this will be the sixth layer)
Step 9: Repeat Step 2 until out of triangles
Note: There should not be any overhangs nor a seventh layer.  Please review your work and see if everything is done correctly.
Note: I  forgot to take a picture of the fifth layer.   Please forgive me... but it is the same as the other layers.

Step 6: Wings: Layer 7

You are done with the base. Now we will start working on the wings. Instead of making another layer around the entire circle, our goal is to extend the circle on opposite sides to create wings.  That means that Layer 7 will only take 24 triangles instead of 30, like before--12 triangles on each side.  Layer 8 will take 22 triangles and Layer 9 will have 20.  Get the idea?  The mindset you need to have is that we have to reduce the number of triangles we put on each time so we can get the tip of the wing at the end. Refer to the photos before looking at the instructions and try to make sense of what is being done.

Step 1: Pick two triangles right next to each other on the sixth level on your swan. 
Step 2: There will be a triangle to the right and the left of the two triangles.  These two triangles (on either side) are the ones you will be starting on.  Insert the slots into the outer (away from the two triangles you chose) leg on the triangle to the right. Insert the other slot into the inside of the triangle right next to it.  Then, repeat the same for the other side (left) of the two triangles you chose.
Note: There should be six legs sticking out in the middle of the two triangles you just placed. There should be two sets of two legs in the middle that should belong to a full triangle and there should be two halfs of triangles.
Step 3: Put your finger on the left triangle you just placed in and count twelve triangles (including the triangle you started with and count away from the 2 triangles that you chose). The point for doing this is to replicate what you just did over to the opposite side of the base but keeping the triangles in between equal. 
Step 4: Put a triangle slot  in the twelfth triangle's leg. You want to insert the slot into the leg closest to the first triangle you counted. The other slot should be inserted into the closest leg of the triangle next to it, Triangle #11, also closest to the first triangle you chose.
Step 5: Repeat backwards, making sure you have placed  in all 12 triangles.
Note: The two triangles you initially chose will not be touched until the wings are finished. 
Step 6: Now, to begin the wing on the opposite side, just repeat placing slots in legs on the other side of the two triangles--placing in another 12 triangles. (LEAVE THE TWO YOU CHOSE ALONE).
Step 7: DONE!!

Step 7: Wings: Layer 8-14

Now we will finish the wings!!! The concept is easy and you need to repeat it over and over until you get to the tip of the wing.

Step 1: Get a new triangle and place one of the slots halfway in on the outer piece of the marker you set. The other slot goes to the inner piece of the triangle next to it also halfway. What you are doing is reducing the number or triangles and setting new markers

Step 2: Do that for all the markers.

Step 3: Fill in between with new triangles just like layer 7

Step 4: If you have caught the technique by now then you just need to repeat steps 1-3 until you have just a plain tip or layer 14.


Step 8: Neck and Tail

This is officially the last step of the swan!!! If you guys have made it this far please congratulate yourself to a cookie. Now back to work...

We will start with the neck.

Step 1: Get 30 triangles

Step 2: Take the 2 legs on one triangle and insert them into the 2 slots of another triangle.

Step 3: Repeat with all of the triangles.

Step 4: Arrange the neck to a S-shape by pushing different areas.

Step 5: Attach the two slots at the end to the two triangles you chose on the inner two legs (so the exact middle!). It does not matter which side.

Step 6: You may notice that the neck is too heavy and slides off well you need to place tape around it. Make sure its not seen!! I suggest that you put it where you just inserted it.

Now for the tail.

Step 1: Take 5 triangles

Step 2: Put three on the six legs that are connected to the opposite end of where you neck is ( where the two triangles you chose are and where the 6 legs from layer six are).

Step 3: Put two triangles in the middle of the 6 legs from the triangles you just inserted

Step 4: Put 1 triangle in the middle of the 4 legs from the triangle you inserted.


Step 9: Optional: Small Swan

The small swan uses the same instructions as the big swan. You may see some differences on how it looks during and after the building stage but if you follow the instruction correctly you should come out to the same product. The small swan does take less time... at least it did for me. You will need to make the size of the paper smaller as I will show you.

Step 1: Take a piece of paper

Step 2: Cut it into 4 equal strips

Step 3: Cut those strips lengthwise equally 8 times.

Step 4: Repeat until you get the amount of triangles that you need for this project

Step 5: Follow the instructions given in the previous pages.

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    10 years ago on Step 5

    Nice tutorial. I love 3d origami although it does take up a lot of time. I experimented with different kinds of paper and used some white glue to avoid "accidents" by curious friends. Here are some of my creations, http://bisozozo.blogspot.com/2012/01/origami-love.html.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank You. I looked at your website and you have a lot of talent in origmai ( probrobly more than me) I really appreciate showing me what you have done. If you make any more please tell me so.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    Practice makes perfect!you should try doing the peacock. Search it up like "stick-tail peacock'.