3D Paper Dragon Instructions

Updated April 17, 2017

Paper folding, frequently referred to as origami, is a traditional Japanese art form. This paper dragon makes use of two standard origami bases: the square base and the bird base. This is similar to the traditional origami paper crane, which makes use of the same bases. The origami dragon requires more complex folds, making it a good next step for origami artists who have already mastered the paper crane.

Lay your sheet of origami paper on a hard, flat surface, colour side up.

Fold the paper in half horizontally, crease well and unfold. Fold the paper in half vertically, crease and unfold. Repeat this method diagonally from corner to corner as well. Your square should now be separated into eight triangular sections.

Pinch the midpoints of the left and right sides. Following the creases you made in Step 1, fold these midpoints inward, creating a square.

Orient your square base from Section 1 so that the end with the open flaps is facing down. Fold the top flap on the left side in to the middle. Repeat with the right side. Fold the top point of the square down. Crease well, then unfold the top point and the left and right flaps.

Lift the bottom corner upwards. As you do this, fold the left and right sides inward. This is also known as a petal fold.

Flip your project over and repeat the petal fold. This is a completed bird base.

Orient your project so that the corner with open flaps is pointing towards the right.

Fold the top layer, top and bottom points, in toward the centre. Fold the back flap over to the left. On the top layer, fold the bottom half up over the top half. Fold the top point of the bottom layer back and downwards.

Fold the top layer from left to right, creating two equal sized wings. Now fold the left corner back, to line up with the other wing. Fold the right point upwards, creating an equilateral triangle on the right half. Repeat this last fold on the backside. Fold the bottom point upwards, lining up with the top of the left half. Repeat this fold on the backside. You should now have a point on the left, which will be the head; two wings; and a point sticking out the right, which will be the tail.

Fold three small reverse folds, starting at the base of the dragon neck where it meets the wings. Fold the left point approximately one-quarter of the distance from the tip. This is the head of the dragon. Make two more reverse folds on the head of the dragon, creating the mouth. Make two reverse folds in the tail, starting where the tail meets the wings. This gives the tail some shape and contour.

Fold two or three simple pleats in both wings.


Create your own origami paper out of wrapping paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Square sheet of origami paper
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About the Author

Jessica Cohen is a professional freelance writer who graduated with honors from the New School University in New York City, earning her bachelor's degree in liberal arts. Cohen specializes in writing music reviews and related articles, and most recently worked as a grant/technical writer for a nonprofit music organization in New York City.