The origami swan requires only a few simple folds to make and is a good choice when teaching origami to beginners. Making a simple model allows them to build the confidence they need to tackle more challenging origami projects such as the classic origami crane design.
The origami swan is a traditional origami design, which means it has no known creator. For this reason, it's a common project featured in most introductory level origami books.
Since real swans are white, this tutorial uses a sheet of origami paper that is white on both sides. If you don't have a lot of origami paper handy, the swan can easily be folded with a sheet of letter sized white copy paper trimmed into a square.
Because there are so few steps involved in making the origami swan, every crease is important. If you make a mistake, it's best to start over with a new sheet of paper instead of attempting to fix the original folds.
1. Make a Kite Base
The origami swan is made from a kite base. This is a common origami base form that gets its name because it looks like a kite. Two other projects that use the kite base are the origami ghost and origami love bird.
To make a kite base, start with one corner facing you so your paper looks like a diamond. Fold the paper in half along one of the diagonals. Unfold. Fold each of the lower edges in to meet the center crease.
2. Fold the Edges In
Flip your paper over. Fold both long edges in to meet the vertical center crease as indicated in the photo to the left.
3. Form the Origami Swan's Beak
Fold the bottom point up to meet the opposite corner as indicated in the photo to the left. Fold the top part of the paper down slightly. This will form the beak of the origami swan.
4. Complete Your Origami Swan
Rotate the paper. Fold in half using a mountain fold. Gently ease the neck of the swan up and into position as shown in the photo to the left.
If you are teaching this easy origami model to a group of children, encourage them to personalize their swan by drawing on the paper or adding stick on wiggle eyes to the swan's face. For many children, decorating their model is the best part of the paper folding process!
5. Making an Origami Birthday Card
Since the origami swan is a flat model, this is a good choice for decorating a handmade birthday card. Fold a sheet of 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch paper into fourths. Attach the swan to the front of the card with a glue stick or a small amount of double-sided tape. Make an envelope from a sheet of 12 inch x 12 inch scrapbook paper using the directions in the About Origami Easy Origami Envelope Pattern tutorial.
If you don't want to make an all white swan, folding the design from patterned paper gives your card a more artistic look.
6. Making a 3D Origami Swan
The other type of origami swan that is quite popular is a 3D origami swan made using a technique known as Golden Venture Folding or Chinese Paper Folding. This technique is similar to modular origami. Making a swan in this way requires 400 sheets of paper folded into triangles that are assembled in a specific pattern. As you might expect, this method is quite time consuming. Visit the Origami Resource Center website to learn more about how to fold this type of paper swan.