Easy Origami Crane Instructions

Steps to Fold a Paper Crane

Illustration of origami cranes

Illustration: The Spruce / Miguel Co

Learn how to make the iconic traditional origami crane with this easy to follow step-by-step tutorial. You will need one sheet of square paper for this project.

People often associate origami with the origami crane, or tsuru. It's especially popular due to the story of 1001 cranes (senbazuru), but its simplicity is hard to argue with.

This well-known origami model is easy to intermediate level. It's a great model for beginners after you've completed other simple models, such as the boatfox, or elephant.

To make this project, you need a square piece of origami paper. A larger piece of paper will be easier to use if you are a beginner.

Make a Square Base

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Start by making an origami square base. Begin with your paper color side up.

Fold Diagonally

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Fold the paper in half diagonally.

Unfold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Unfold. There should now be a crease in the paper from the diagonal fold.

Fold Diagonally Again

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Now fold the paper in half diagonally in the other direction.

Unfold Again

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Unfold the paper. Your square should now have two diagonal creases, forming an "X."

Flip Over

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Flip the paper over to the other side.

Fold Horizontally

origami crane instructions
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Fold the paper in half horizontally.

Unfold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Unfold to reveal the new crease from the previous fold.

Fold Vertically

origami crane instructions
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Fold the paper in half vertically. 

Unfold Again

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Unfold to reveal the new crease.

Fold From Top Down

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Bring the top point down to the bottom, while also folding the left and right corners down into the center.

Finish Origami Square Base

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

You should now have a diamond shape, with a vertical crease running down the center—this is an origami square base.

Begin a Squash Fold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Starting with your square base, make sure the open end is at the bottom. Fold the right lower edge to the central crease.

Fold Left Side

origami crane instructions - squash fold
Creedence Gerlach

 Now follow suit with the left side; fold the left lower edge to the central crease.

Fold Top Down

origami crane instructions - squash fold
Creedence Gerlach

Fold the top section down.

Unfold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Now unfold the previous three folds.

Pull Bottom Up

Origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Pull one layer up from the bottom, along the creases you just made.

Finish Squash Fold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Push the left and right edges inwards. 

This is called a squash fold—you can see the wing is fully "squashed" into place.

Flip Over

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Flip the model over to the other side.

Repeat the Squash Fold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Repeat the same steps of the squash fold on this side, starting with the lower right fold to the central crease.

Fold the Left

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Now fold the left side to the central crease.

Fold Top Down

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Fold the top section down (the smaller triangle) to meet the two folds you just made.

Unfold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Unfold the last three folds you just made.

Pull Bottom Up

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Pull one layer up from the bottom, along the creases you just made.

Finish Squash Fold

origami crane instructions
Creedence Gerlach

Push the left and right edges inwards to complete the second squash fold.

Fold Lower Right

origami crane instructions
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Fold the lower right edge to the central crease.

Fold the Other Side

origami crane instructions
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Fold the bottom left corner in the same way, to the crease.

Flip Over

origami crane instructions
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Flip the model over.

Fold the Right Corner

origami crane instructions
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Now fold the entire right lower corner to meet the central crease.

Fold the Left Side

origami crane instructions
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Fold the left lower corner to meet the central crease.

Fold the Neck of the Crane

origami crane instructions
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Fold the lower right flap up, under, and out to the right.

Fold the Tail of the Crane

origami crane instructions
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Do the same with the left side (the tail).

Fold the Head of the Crane

origami crane
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Create a head by flattening the flap, and inside reverse folding a little section down at the top.

Fold Out the Wings

origami crane
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Complete your crane by folding out the wings.

How to Display Your Cranes

origami crane
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There are so many ways you can display your origami cranes! They make great party decor, table decor, or string together a bunch to make a garland.

  • For a more creative approach, try attaching them to skewers to put in drinks or on top of cakes.
  • Gather a large branch that you can hang up, and then hang a bunch of origami cranes and other origami models from it!