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How to Make a Dragon Origami

Updated on July 9, 2018
Mamerto profile image

Mamerto Adan is a feature writer back in college for a school paper. Science is one of his many interests, and his favorite topic.

I rarely make origami, but this is addicting!

I always love to try origami when I was young. But with limited resources and less skills, I decided to find another past time. I mean in the advent of accessible internet, all I have are borrowed books I barely understood, or TV tutorials. I even annoyed a friend so he could teach me how to make a paper crane. Did you know that a badly crafted paper airplane was the best I could do. Shame on me!

Nevertheless as the year passed I managed to craft several not so good folded models aside from those lousy paper planes. I did make a folded cup; and I think it is good enough.

Anyway, several crumpled sheets of paper later; I finally mastered the basic origami art which is the paper crane. I cannot call it an achievement, but that was fun nevertheless. When the teacher was not around I will collect discarded sheets so I could craft several of those recyclable birds. And come to think of it, I did manage to fold a very crude rose for a school project.

And now we have Google and an accessible book stop. This means that getting into origami is a lot simpler now. I mean if you want to try something, just Google it and there you have it. You got an online instruction on how to churn any folded models. And now I like to share to my dear reader this interesting bit of art I found in the net, not to mention some hacks I uncovered to help you in your paper modelling hobby. Interested? Just read below for more.

The Paper dragon

Here's my work!
Here's my work!

I thought that the basic paper crane was complex enough. But I never imagine that I could bring a dragon to life from paper. I found this rather interesting paper creature somewhere in the bowels of Google. Now there are several versions of this origami dragon. Some are basic enough that they resemble abstract figure (or an Evangelion Angel if you ask me). Others are so well crafted and detailed that I swear that they will breathe fire.

We will get to those super detailed dragons soon. It will be another article, but we will start with what newbies could do. The dragon design we see above is neither too simple nor complex. Skill levels might vary according to people, but this one is achievable enough for me.

And I have below average skills in terms of an origami artist!


1. Obviously we will need paper. We could practice with bits of discarded paper so we won’t regret if your model fail. I once used old newspaper, or scratch papers I used in math class. For the sake of this tutorial (for formality reason), I will use a construction paper. There are papers specially made for origami folding, but this is good enough for me.

Paper, an obviously important material.
Paper, an obviously important material.

2. You will also need some sharp cutting instruments. Whatever you prefer, you might use a hobby knife or a cheaper box cutter. Smaller is better, but make sure it is not too small. For a safer alternative you may use a pair of scissors. Now you might be wondering why we need those things. This is because when doing origami, like this paper dragon, we need to start on a perfectly square paper. Yes, we need to shear off our paper so it will become a square. Again any cutting tools will do but I prefer box cutters and scissors. I just want to show off my pocket knife here. If possible you may use your hands.

Use a box-cutter instead. I just want to show my Ontario Rat 1.
Use a box-cutter instead. I just want to show my Ontario Rat 1.

3. The ruler or straight edge comes as an option tool. For newbies like many of us here, we might have trouble producing even folding. This is where they come to play. Their edges will help you do fine straight folds.

You could even use this key-chain tool as straight edge.
You could even use this key-chain tool as straight edge.

Now enough said and let’s get folding!

Folding Your Dragon

1. Start with a regular letter sized paper. Again for newbies like us, the wider the better (though not too big).

2. Now we need to make this rectangular sheet into square. We could do that by folding it diagonally from the upper left down to the right side. We will see a portion left out. Fold the remaining part to make a crease and shear it off with your cutting tool (or hands if possible)

3. Now that we got a square piece we are good to go. See the crease running from the upper left to the bottom right? Now take the upper right and fold it all the way to the bottom. In this way we have a cross shaped crease that runs in each corner.

4. We then make more creases by folding out paper horizontally, then vertically. We should get something like we see below.

5. Now the tricky part. With all those creases, our paper now takes this partial form of a folded forms sided star. Press the middle and carefully push our paper through until it forms a folded four flapped square.

6. With the paper flat on the table, fold the front flap as what is shown.

7. Do the same in all flaps until we form a diamond shaped piece.

8. Fold the top as what we see below to form a crease.

9. We then unfold the front portion of our diamond.

10. Another tricky part. As what we see in the photo, pinch the bottom flap and slowly raise it. Once we did fold the two protruding side until we arrive in the shape below.

11. Do the the same on the other side.

12. Now pinch the top and fold it down. Do it on both sides until we arrive at the shape below.

13. As what we see in the picture, fold the top portion to make a crease.

14. Pull the two flaps until our folded paper inflates into a shape we see below.

16. Remember the crease we made on the top? Using it as a guide, push the top down until we make a depression.

16. Finally collapse the whole piece so we will arrive on the shape below

17. Fold the front flap upwards and fold it sideways to produce a crease.

18. Fold the flap on the opposite way so we would have a cross crease.

19. With the creases as guide, fold the raised flap until we have this form below.

20. Do the same on the other flap until we have this shape.

21. Fold both flaps backwards, like what we see below.

22. Open the front portion until it resembles the shape below.

23. Fold the front portion upwards. Make another fold so we will have a forward pointing spike.

24. Do the same on the back flap.

25. Pull the portion of the front spike like we see below and fold the top half of our spike in half.

26. Fold the resulting wrinkle forward.

27. Do the same on the opposite side so we will arrive on the shape below.

28. Do the same approach on the back spike. The result should be like something below.

29. To form the wings, fold the flaps on the sides forward until we have this shape.

30. To fold the head, fold the back spike upwards for the neck, forward for the head, and bend the tip inwards to produce a snout.

31. Do the same for the other spike and fold the piece to our desired tail form. Mine is a re-curved tail.

32. Finally for the legs, fold the front and back portions on either sides.

The Finished Form

And there you have it, we have a small paper dragon for your desk or school project.


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    • Mamerto profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamerto Adan 

      24 months ago from Cabuyao

      Thanks Alexander! And origami is a fun thing to do :)

    • Mamerto profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamerto Adan 

      24 months ago from Cabuyao

      Thanks Louise for dropping by! Actually I'm not good at origami myself. I only managed to do this after several attempts. But this is a fun hobby :)

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      My handwriting is not good how to improve

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      24 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      This looks fun!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      24 months ago from Norfolk, England

      That's great, and love all the pictures you posted of how to make this. I've never been very good at origami though, but this looks like I want to try this now.


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