How to Make an Easy Origami Butterfly

Origami Butterfly Tutorial

The Spruce / Chrissy Pk

Using an easy-to-follow tutorial, you can learn how to make a little origami butterfly. It's a traditional origami model that is a good introduction to the art of paper folding popularized by the Japanese. The word origami means "folding paper" (ori means "folding" and kami is "paper" in Japanese).

The origami butterfly has a simple but elegant look. Once you learn how to make one, you won't want to stop. An entire group of paper butterflies makes a wonderful wall decoration. You can also use them to embellish handmade cards, scrapbooks, and even as the finishing touch on gift wrapping.

What You'll Need

You will need one sheet of square paper for each origami butterfly. For a bold look, use solid colored paper. If you'd like an elegant and traditional Japanese look, try authentic washi paper. Washi paper is made in a traditional manner and processed by hand from fibers native to Japan. The fibers come from the inner bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry bush. 

You could also use other types of paper, such as newspaper, music sheets, or wrapping paper to make these if you do not have any fancy origami paper. And, you might want to practice on scrap paper until you get used to the folds so you don't waste the paper you intend to use for your project.

Getting Started

Beginning folds of an origami butterfly
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk

As you fold the paper, make sure your folds are as crisp and clean as possible. Do not overdo the folding, though, because you don't want the paper to rip. If you have two-sided colored paper, start off with your paper white-side-up to ensure that your butterfly is colored when it is done.

  1. Start by folding diagonally, both ways.
  2. Fold the paper in half, both ways.
  3. Fold all four corners into the center.

Flip Over

Second set of folds for an origami butterfly
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  1. Flip the paper over.
  2. Fold all four corners into the center.
  3. Unfold the previous step and flip the model over to the other side.
  4. Unfold the paper.

Get Ready to Make Flaps

Making the flaps for an origami butterfly
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  1. Fold the right side into the center.
  2. Fold the left side to the center too.
  3. Holding the paper in the center, pull the right flap out to the right.
  4. Pull the left flap out in the same way.
  5. Flatten the top section.

Make More Flaps

Making more flaps for an origami butterfly
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  1. Make the same right and left flaps for the bottom section.
  2. Flatten what you have. It should look like a squat, rather horizontal hexagon.
  3. Fold the top section behind.
  4. Flatten the model.

Fold It Into a Quarter of Its Size

Folding an origami butterlfy
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  1. Flip the right layer down.
  2. Flip the left flap down.
  3. Fold a small section inwards where indicated.
  4. Fold the model in half to the right.

Finish Up

Finishing folds of an origami butterfly
The Spruce / Chrissy Pk
  1. Fold a small section over where shown.
  2. Unfold the back layer to the left.
  3. Reverse fold the left side of the fold you just created.

If your butterfly did not come out like the illustration, just give it another go. The issue is usually that your folds are not as precise as you had hoped. Simply get new paper and start again and remember that origami becomes easier with practice.