3D Japanese Origami Projects

Written by ann lapan
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3D Japanese Origami Projects
3D origami often allows for more creativity in each origami design. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper. Using origami techniques, you can fold paper into hundreds of different designs and shapes, such as animals, flowers and other decorative items. Although many lovely origami designs are two-dimensional, you can stretch your creativity by making impressive and beautiful 3D origami projects.


Origami animals are some of the most common origami designs. Many origami animals are 3D. Traditional Japanese origami projects, such as the origami crane, appear to actually fly through the air with wings outstretched from a rounded, three dimensional body. Although a 3D origami project appears more complicated than a two dimensional project, some animals, such as the rabbit and butterfly, are relatively simple to make. Basic folds, such as mountain, valley and inside reverse folds, create much of the shape. Other origami animals, such as koi and some origami elephants, can be more complicated. Wet folding, a technique using damped paper, is often used to give more complex models a lifelike appearance.


Nearly any flower you can think of can be made from origami, and almost all origami flowers are three dimensional. One of the most traditional Japanese origami flowers is the lily. This striking flower utilises the frog base, one of several traditional folded bases in origami, from which many other projects can also be folded. Other easy 3D origami flowers include the buttonhole flower, which is a delicate four-petal flower, and the tulip. More complex 3D origami flowers include roses, water lilies, orchids and lotuses.

Useful Items

Although origami is most often thought of as a tool for creating decorations, many useful items can be made from origami. These handy objects are usually 3D. Traditional origami items include boxes, including masu boxes and sanbos, a type of lunch or snack box, bowls, cups and other containers. Simple paper aeroplanes can also become more complex and true to life with 3D origami techniques. Origami jewellery can be created by folding several small 3D origami designs and stringing them on a necklace, bracelet or earring hooks.

Modular Origami

Modular origami is origami that is folded from many pieces of paper. Each piece of paper is folded into the same design. The units for a particular project then slot securely into each other, creating many different objects that can then be used as decorations. Although some modular origami is flat or 2D, other origami, such as stars and balls, like the traditional kusudama, are 3D and can be viewed from all sides. Modular origami can also be used to create useful items such as bowls and boxes. Some 3D animals are also made from modular origami.

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