How to easily make an origami elephant

This traditional origami elephant is a challenging, intermediate-advanced level project that should take approximately ten minutes or more to complete. Follow the directions carefully and move on to the next step only when you are sure that all previous steps have been correctly completed. You may have to work this model several times before you are able to successfully complete this model. To begin, you’ll need a piece of paper that has been cut into a perfect square, a pair of scissors, and an appropriate place to work.

Practice with any paper you have on hand until you have mastered the folds of the model. A standard sheet of copy paper works well. Practice with inexpensive paper first and then move on to colored or patterned paper, if desired. The paper you use should be heavier than the average sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper.

In order to achieve accurate folds and sharp creases, you have to fold against a hard, flat surface. A table or hardback book will do. Run a pencil or ruler edge over each crease as you work to make them even sharper.

  1. Position a square of paper on your work surface so that its points are facing up and down, left and right. If you are using two-sided paper, make sure that the color you want for the exterior of the elephant is facing down.
  2. Bring the left point over to meet the right point. Crease and unfold.
  3. Bring the top point down to meet the bottom point. Crease and unfold. Turn the paper over.
  4. Position the square so that the edges are now facing up and down, left and right.
  5. Bring the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold. Bring the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and leave folded. You should now have a rectangular shaped model.
  6. Grasp the model at its left and right edges and push inward. It should collapse along the pre-existing folds. The result will be a diamond shape that has one folded flap sticking out toward the back of the model and another sticking out toward the front.
  7. Bring the front flap back to meet the left point of the diamond and bring the back flap up to meet the right point. Make sure all of the creases are as sharp as possible and that your model lies as flat as possible. Position the model so that the open end is pointing toward you.
  8. Bring the lower left edge of the model (top layer only) over to meet the model’s vertical center line. Crease and unfold. Fold the lower left edge backward along the crease line you just made. Crease and unfold.
  9. Repeat Step 8 for the lower right edge of the model.
  10. Bring the top point of the model down to meet the bottom edge. Crease just enough to mark the horizontal center. Do not make a sharp crease.
  11. Bring the top point of the model down to the center of the model. Use the crease line made in Step 10 as a guide. Crease and unfold.
  12. Bring the bottom point of the model (top layer only) up toward the top of the model, opening up the top layer as you go. The top layer should collapse along the crease line made in Step 11 and the bottom point should come behind the top point to touch your work surface. The left and right points of the model will meet at the center. The result will be a narrow diamond shape at the top of the model. Press flat.
  13. Turn the model over and Repeat Steps 11-12.
  14. Bring the top point of the model (top layer only) down to meet the bottom point. Press flat. Turn the model over.
  15. Lift the bottom right point of the model (top layer only) up so that it sticks straight up from the model. Open up the point’s right side and bring it down to the right to lie flat. Press flat. This will create a kite shaped flap that points to the right.
  16. Repeat Step 15 for the bottom left point to create a star-shaped model.
  17. Bring the upper left edge of the left pointed flap down to meet its horizontal center line. Crease and leave folded. Repeat for the pointed flap’s lower left edge.
  18. Repeat Step 17 for the right pointed flap to create a symmetrical model.
  19. Fold the left pointed flap in half, lengthwise, from bottom to top. Press flat.
  20. Repeat Step 19 for the right pointed flap.
  21. Fold the model in half, lengthwise, from right to left. Press flat.
  22. Rotate the model to the left so that the two very narrow points are facing you. Turn the model over.
  23. Locate the folded triangular flap that lies along the top edge of the model. Use a pair of scissors to cut along the flap’s folded edge. This might be easier to accomplish of you open up the model a bit. Cut to the base of the triangle. This will create one triangular flap on each side of the model.
  24. Turn back each triangular flap created in Step 23 to create the elephant’s ears. The tips should point down and a bit to the left.
  25. Hold the model between thumb and forefinger at it center to secure the folds.
  26. Open up the left pointed flap along its bottom edge and push down on its top, folded edge. Push until the tip is pointing straight down and the flap is flattened out. Reverse the flap’s existing crease and pinch in place to form what will be the elephant’s rear legs. The point where the legs meet the body should be enclosed within the model’s layers.
  27. Repeat Step 15 for the right pointed flap to create the elephant’s trunk. Fold so that the trunk is longer that the legs.
  28. Pick up the model and turn it so that the rear of the elephant is facing toward you. Open up the folded edge a bit to reveal a kite shaped flap.

18 Use scissors to cut straight up the center of the flap to its midpoint. At the midpoint, snip straight up to the left and then make an identical cut to the right to form a “Y” shape.

  1. Locate the small triangular flap created in Step 18. This flap should be at the center of the kite-shaped flap. Bring this smaller flap up to create the elephant’s tail. Pinch the back legs together to keep them in place.
  2. Use scissors to even out the trunk, front legs, and back legs. These three parts of the elephant should be level.
  3. Turn the tip of the trunk up and pinch into place to complete the model.

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