Easy Origami Crane Instructions

Illustration of origami cranes

Illustration: The Spruce / Miguel Co

Overview
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $1

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. You can learn how to make the iconic traditional origami crane with this easy to follow step-by-step tutorial.

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Watch Now: How to Make an Easy Origami Crane

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.

Tip

If this is your first time making an origami crane, try using a larger piece of paper so you can easily practice all the folds.

What You'll Need

Materials

  • Sheet Square paper

Instructions

  1. Make a Square Base

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  2. Fold Diagonally

    Fold the paper in half diagonally.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  3. Unfold

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  4. Fold Diagonally Again

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  5. Unfold Again

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  6. Flip Over

    Flip the paper over to the other side.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  7. Fold Horizontally

    Fold the paper in half horizontally.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  8. Unfold

    Unfold to reveal the new crease from the previous fold.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  9. Fold Vertically

    Fold the paper in half vertically. 

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  10. Unfold Again

    Unfold to reveal the new crease.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  11. Fold From Top Down

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  12. Finish Origami Square Base

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  13. Begin a Squash Fold

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  14. Fold Left Side

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

    origami crane instructions - squash fold
    Creedence Gerlach
  15. Fold Top Down

    Fold the top section down.

    origami crane instructions - squash fold
    Creedence Gerlach
  16. Unfold

    Now unfold the previous three folds.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  17. Pull Bottom Up

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

    Origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  18. Finish Squash Fold

    Push the left and right edges inwards. 

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  19. Flip Over

    Flip the model over to the other side.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  20. Repeat the Squash Fold

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  21. Fold the Left

    Now fold the left side to the central crease.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  22. Fold Top Down

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  23. Unfold

    Unfold the last three folds you just made.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  24. Pull Bottom Up

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  25. Finish Squash Fold

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  26. Fold Lower Right

    Fold the lower right edge to the central crease.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  27. Fold the Other Side

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  28. Flip Over

    Flip the model over.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  29. Fold the Right Corner

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  30. Fold the Left Side

    Fold the left lower corner to meet the central crease.

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  31. Fold the Neck of the Crane

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

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  32. Fold the Tail of the Crane

    Do the same with the left side (the tail).

    origami crane instructions
    Creedence Gerlach
  33. Fold the Head of the Crane

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

    origami crane
    Creedence Gerlach
  34. Open the Wings

    Complete your crane by folding out the wings.

    origami crane
    Creedence Gerlach

How to Display Your Cranes

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!
origami crane
Creedence Gerlach