Introduction: Mini Origami Monster

About: I can't think of a single thing to tell you about me. I'm a boring individual who stays busy to avoid being bored. Please feel free to follow me for the awesome things I sometimes create.

Right if you're reading this then you're probably interested in how I made the above pictured origami monster.

The inspiration that led to making this guy is kind of a funny story. Well, it's funny in my world. It may not be funny to the average Joe. Truth is, I don't really have a sense of humor to speak of. I'm basically the person who takes a month to get a joke, and then finds herself laughing when I finally get the punchline usually somewhere random, like in a grocery line.

So the idea to make an origami monster came about as a result of a nightmare and an episode of sleep paralysis. I've had issues with this sleep disorder most of my life, and it's truly a terrifying feeling to wake up and not be able to move. Normally I try and stay calm and run through the letters of the alphabet until the feeling wears off, but the other night as I was at the letter L, my mind wandered off and I thought "I wonder if I could make that monster using origami".

I think it's funny because it's a truly absurd thought to have run across a fear addled brain. So after a lot of laughing and a bit of crying I decided, since I was awake anyway, to play around with some origami base folds, and see if I could come up with anything resembling the praying mantis like monster from my dream.

Sadly, playing with base folds didn't help me come up with the monster above. I mostly just played around with sinking the tips and edges on different pieces and shapes of paper. I did decide that I'm going to play around with folding circles of paper more in the future though. So playing around with base folds didn't really give me a monster, but sometimes it's a cool way to come up with something different or to alter an existing pattern to make it different, which is why I am mentioning it, that and it was part of the process that led to this guy getting made.

I ended up using a basic 3D origami component and then altering that origami pattern to make the head. I can't remember what this modular unit is called, but I do remember that my uncle taught me how to fold it. He actually taught me most of the traditional origami folding patterns. So I've been using this for years because it's a great way to make 3D paper sculptures and it translates well for smaller scale work. I like miniatures so I worked this up at the scale you see above. It's just under an inch and half tall. It's not the most creative thing I've ever come up with, but it looked cool and I figured I'd share it anyway. So if you want to learn how I made this, then proceed on.

Step 1: Supplies and a Note on Paper


All I needed to make this, was a smaller rectangular sheet of paper. It was 3 by 4 1/2 inches. (This I cut into smaller rectangles, which I will show you in the next step)

I also used scissors and some glue, and a black marker to add the eyes and nose. The only other tool I needed was a pair of tweezers, to help hold onto the smaller pieces. Oh and I also used a sewing needle to help apply the glue.

The paper that I used for this is Roselle brand notepad, which I found at the local dollar tree store. It's actually a really awesome paper, it's very strong while still being thin, so it folds well, without the edges of folds fraying. It's also a perfect surface for colored pencils. It also erases well, and doesn't fall apart or shed. I have worked with what seems like millions of different papers and even though this is an inexpensive notepad it's really an amazing paper which I'm very fond of. I haven't found it in larger sizes, but if I ever do I'd certainly purchase a larger notepad for use. I wanted to mention this because it's something I do use all of the time, (for transfers, for paper cutting patterns, for origami, for quick colored pencil sketches, and taking notes) and I'm really very picky about different papers. I'm always excited when I find a paper that stands up to a lot of different uses. Really there is only one downside to this paper and that is that it isn't square, it's between 1/8"-1/16" off from square. (Yes I actually measured it, I did say I'm picky didn't I?)

Just a note:

I do alter the origami modular unit just a bit to make it work more nicely for a smaller scale, but other than that alteration, if you already know the folding pattern for 3D origami modular units then the next couple of steps will be redundant. I included them more for the sake of being thorough than them being necessary, so if you know how to cut a page into 32 rectangles and how to turn those rectangles into the modular units then you can skip the next two steps.

Step 2: Cutting Several Rectangles

I needed 20 rectangles to make this monster. To start off with I took one sheet of paper and folded it to get smaller rectangles, then I cut them out . Again the page I started off with was 3 by 4 1/2 inches. After folding and cutting them, I had 32 smaller rectangles. The steps are as follows below.


Turn the page as shown in the first photo above, a portrait orientation. (photo 1)

Fold the bottom up, folding it in half. (photo 2)

Then fold the top edge down to the bottom fold, folding the front edge in half again (photo 3)

Flip the page over and fold the top down to the bottom fold, folding the back edge in half again. At this point the paper is folded into 4 sections. (photo 4)

Now fold the front side in half again. (Photo 5)

Then flip it over and fold the back side in half again. (Photo 6)

Unfold the page. This should have divided the page into 8 equal sections (Photo 7)

Turn the paper so that the longer side is up, in a landscape orientation, then fold it in half, by bringing the bottom edge to the top (Photo 8)

Fold the front flap down to the center fold (photo 9)

Flip the page over and fold the back flap down to the center fold (photo 10)

Unfold it, This will have divided the page into 32 rectangles, that are very small.

Next I cut them out. Because I'm lazy I refolded my page in landscape orientation and then cut it into strips along my fold lines. Then I just refold the strips and put my craft knife through the folded edges as seen in photo 13 above, and making sure to cut away from myself, not towards myself, I slice through the folded edges. This just makes it a bit quicker, which is why I do it this way.

So once cut it was onto the next step.

Step 3: Make Your 3d Origami Pieces

I needed to make 19 of these pieces. Again this pattern is common place, but I did have to alter the common pattern slightly to make it work better for a smaller scale, so I'll walk through the steps I took including the alterations.

Step one: Turn the little rectangle so that the longer side is at the top (Photo 1)

Step 2: Fold this in half, creasing well. (photo 2)

Step 3: Fold this in half, taking the left side to the right side (Photo 3)

Step 4: Unfold this, (photo 4)

Step 5: Fold the bottom edge of the right side up to the center crease made in step 4, (photo 5)

Step 6: Fold the bottom left edge to the center crease (Photo 6)

Step 7: Flip over, at this point I would normally fold the corners of the edges sticking up in towards the center, but I do not do that for small scale projects, so I leave them straight for now. (Photo 7)

Step 8:Fold the flap edges on the right and left sides down. (Photo 8)

Step 9: Flip it over again and cut the little edges that stick out off. (Photo 9, and 10) This is the only way in which this differs from the standard pattern, and this alteration just aids in putting these units together at a smaller scale. (I do find myself wondering if this doesn't technically make it kirigami? Because I cut it, although that's a completely irrelevant thought)

Step 10: Fold in half keeping the flaps from step 8 towards the inside (Photo 11)

Each of these pieces has 2 pockets and two triangular flaps. To build with them you just insert one of the triangular flaps into the pocket of a second piece.

This is the most time consuming step, especially at a small scale. I found myself taking lot's of breaks and procrastinating. I hope I'm not the only person on the planet that dislikes repetition, but even if I am, repetition is still horrible. So as soon as I had 19 of these made I hurried to get it built, because I was already impatient to just get it done and over with.

Step 4: Now to Actually Make the Monsters Body

First, I wanted to show you the flaps (photo 1) and the pockets (Photo 2). I always try to remember the pockets are at the back, and the flaps are at the front. This just helps me remember which way to put the pieces together because inevitably I end up putting them together upside down and then I get confused.

I started in the center, by putting 4 units back to back. (Photo 3)

Then I laid a new unit down so it matched up with the flaps of 2 separate units from the center (Photo 4)

Then I joined these 3 units by slipping the flaps into the pockets of the new piece (Photo 5)

Then I repeated these same steps, going around the circle that I made. Attaching two inner flaps to the pockets of a single outer unit, until I had 8 units connected in a circle. (Photos 6-11)

I then glued this body section together by carefully inserting a needle with some glue on the tip into each pocket with the body completely assembled. I just held it together and folded the flaps apart then stuck the needle into the pockets. It wasn't the easiest gluing experience ever but it was easier than trying to glue them together one piece at time, which is how I tried it the first time around, when I got to the step shown in photo 10, the last flaps proved really difficult to get inside the 8th unit, so I ended up making the body twice in order to get it to glue together. I had never tried making a 3D origami body with so few units until this time around, so there was definitely a learning curve to entire process.

If I hadn't glued this it would have fallen apart with the slightest of movements, which is because of the corners that I cut off. Cutting them off makes it easier to get the flaps into the tiny pockets but it does make them slip apart more readily.

Step 5: Making the Legs

So after gluing the body I made the legs by lining up 2 new units with the body as shown in photo 1.

Then I attached these slipping two flaps into the two back pockets of each unit (Photo 2)

I repeated this until I had 4 legs, (Photo 3, and Photo 4)

Next I used my thumb to angle the legs into the shape that I wanted them as seen in photo 5 and photo 6. I did this by gently pushing the last unit down.

In order to get these to stay angled as shown I had to glue them, I didn't do this in the first one that I made, but I did in the second one. Again I shaped each leg and then used a needle with glue on the tip to slip between the pocket and flap and then spread a small bit of glue there.

If you're interested in seeing a photo of this gluing process, I managed to take photo's of gluing the neck, which is the next step. When gluing the legs and the body together I needed both hands so I didn't actually capture it on camera. I think at some point in the future I may find a way to modify my tripod to accept my cell phone. A tripod and the voice commands would totally help me to capture photos hands free. It would also keep me from getting glue on my cell phone. Sorry random tangent there, but it's an idea.

Step 6: Making the Neck

Onto the neck. This was really simple, I just attached three pieces as seen in the first photo. Then glued them together.

Next I needed to attach this to the body, and I needed to make sure that the head would attach to the rest of the structure as well. So photos 2 and 3 show the front of the neck pointing up, photo 4 shows the pockets on the center unit of the three, I'm going to insert the neck with these pockets pointing at the ceiling, by inserting the flaps of the bottom two units (photo 5) into the center of the body as seen in photo 6.

Again I glued this together in the second one that I made, which I made with green paper, by inserting the needle between the attached flaps and pockets. To glue the neck to the body I just added glue to each flap and then slid it into the body.

Step 7: Make the Head

So to make the head I just altered the 3d origami unit so that it looked like a paper airplane, which gave me a flap I could insert into the pocket at the top of the neck. The steps are as follows below.

Step one: Start with the rectangles longest side at the top (Photo 1)

Step two: Fold the bottom up to the top, folding it in half (photo 2)

Step three: fold the right side towards the left, folding it in half (Photo 3)

Step four: Unfold, (photo 4)

Step five: Fold the right side and the left side up alongside the center crease (photo 5)

Step six: Flip this over (photo 6)

Step seven: fold the right side towards the left, folding it in half (Photo 7)

Step eight: At this point when I picked it up I had two flaps and a folded piece in the center (photo 8) I unfolded the flaps by holding onto the center section and pressing them down into the table. (Photo 9)

Then I attached it to the body, by picking up the center and inserting this into the pocket on the neck. There are two pockets on the neck that point up, one on the right and one on the left, it doesn't matter which is used. I attached the head to the right one. All that was left at this point was gluing the components that hadn't been glued in place.

Step 8: Gluing

So I glued each part and reassembled the parts for my first make, my second make I glued as I went. I did however want to show how I glued these together, so in the two photo's above I'm gluing the neck of my second make together by inserting a needle between the flap and the pocket I inserted it into. I did this exact same thing to glue ever unit together with the exception of the neck to the body. (The first photo just shows the pockets where the flaps slip into) The needle slips easily into the pocket while it's assembled.

Basically I ended up gluing both makes in the same order. I glued the body first, then glued the legs, then glued the neck, then glued the neck to the body, then I glued the head.

How's that for a run on sentence. Egh, I can hear my dad's lecture now, (he's the family 'grammar nazi'). Though I'm sure he'll point out that I over used the word 'so' as well.

Step 9: Finishing It Up.

My second make is the green one and my first make is the white one. At this point I had everything assembled and only the legs on the first make were unglued. The only thing it needed were 3 small black dots to make the eyes and nose.

With those added I took photos of both the first make and second. (I'm not sure why I didn't give the first make eyes, I guess I didn't want it to see)

I gave the finished praying mantis like monster to my mom because she thought it looked cute, so it's going to join several other things I've made her in sitting on the top of a TV.

Sadly it serves no other purpose than looking cute though.

It is however a cute version of the creepy monster from my nightmare, and I didn't use someone else's pattern or instructions. Though I'm sure it's probably been done before, even calculus was invented in two places at once by two different people, ( Liebniz and Newton I believe,) so nothing is ever original, especially not on the internet. Yet I accomplished what I set out to do and made an origami monster. All in all it's not too bad for an idea that came about at 3 am in the morning in such an absurd manner.

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