Work Your Craft: How to Make an Origami Samurai Warrior

This DIY origami samurai warrior needs to be seen to be believed.
Christopher McFadden

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If you have ever watched the incredible animated film "Kubo and the Two Strings" you may have wondered how to make your own origami samurai warrior? Well, wonder no longer thanks to this great instruction video. 

Be warned, however. While this particular video is quite short, the actual origami model took well over 50 hours of hard work and dedication to complete. Brace yourself for one epic paper folding exercise!

It is also not possible to detail every single step of the process. For this reason, this guide is more of a quick overview. It is recommended that you follow guides on origami techniques to put into practice when attempting this paper masterpiece. 

diy origami samurai warrior complete
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

As you can imagine, like any project of this nature, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started. 

Materials and gear needed

Step 1: Make the initial folds (pre-creasing)

First, take your A1-sized (or larger) piece of paper and make two initial diagonal folds. 

diy origami samurai first folds
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Next, unfold, and then fold the entire sheet in half lengthways. Make sure you precisely align the corners before committing the fold. 

diy origami samurai second fold
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Next, make a series of parallel, equally spaced, folds along the width of the paper. 

diy origami samurai precreases
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Then do the same along the lengths to make a rectangular grid pattern of creases across the paper.

diy origami samurai grid
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

With that complete, add another series of criss-cross pre-creases superimposed on the rectangular grid you previously complete. Do this by folding the paper in half diagonally, and progressively "rolling" it and creasing it. Rinse and repeat at 90-degrees. 

diy origami samiurai diagonal precreases
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Step 2: Start to make the model

With the preparation work complete, we can now begin to make the origami samurai warrior. Begin to concertina the paper from one edge and use your binder clips to hold in position while you work on another area. 

diy origami samurai concertina
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Next, begin to fold the edges in a similar fashion to make a sort of creased cloak effect. At around the same time, begin to create "arms" by folding and the paper using the pre-creases you made earlier. 

diy origami samurai warrior body
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Continue to shape the torso and head section of the warrior using binder clips to hold bits in place. 

diy origami samurai torso
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Once happy, clip your progress on the torso side and begin to work on the other side of the paper. Fold it over to make a series of pleats. 

diy origami samurai base
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Next, begin to crimp the paper to form a bugle of intersecting zigzags as shown below. This is quite advanced, so watch specific tutorials on the process to help you out. 

diy origami samurai bulge
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Step 3: Make the details

Continue to work on the origami model to form a series of "spikes" and then start to work on the details. You will be making smaller and smaller folds at this point. 

diy origami samurai fine details
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Begin to form the face and fingers of the samurai warrior at this point. 

diy origami samurai fingers
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Use things like toothpicks to help you make smaller folds -- especially for things like the face and armor details. 

origami samurai face
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Where needed, use small amounts of water to help you glue the paper into place. Continue folding and working at the model to form the legs, arms, helmet, and katana. 

diy origami samurai water
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Once applied, dry the paper immediately to fix the joint and help retain the delicate frame of the origami samurai warrior. 

diy origami samurai dry
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Keep folding and using the wet-dry technique to forge the warrior's finer details as needed. For example, around the face, fingers, pleated armored legs, etc. 

diy origami samurai face wet
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Extrude parts of the paper, where needed, to make things like the horns on the helmet, etc. You will want to use the wet-dry technique again here. 

diy origami samurai helmet
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Continue to work on the finer details of the model until the helmet, torso, arms, and legs are more or less completed. 

Where required, use binder clips to help hold sections while you work on some of the fine details using the wet and dry technique. 

diy origami samurai binders wet
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Step 4: Position the limbs and complete the armor

Once happy with the main details of the samurai warrior, you can now begin to move and fix the warrior's limbs and swords. 

Fold, moisten, and dry using a hairdryer for each part of each limb as needed until it reaches the position you want. Do this bit by bit until complete. Don't rush this step and take your time to avoid ripping or tearing the paper. 

diy origami samurai move arms and legs
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Tidy up and form parts of the armor like the pauldrons, skirt, etc carefully. In this case, tease out some of the folds to make the jagged look of the samurai. 

diy origami samurai armor details
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Expand parts of the paper to form cavities inside in order to provide the samurai with a more realistic 3D look. You may also want to gently twist parts of the body to move the head and torso into position. 

As always, be careful and delicate at this stage in case you accidentally damage it. 

diy origami samurai move body
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Continue to gently coax the paper into the positions and shapes you want for the final samurai. 

diy origami samurai tease model
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Continue to progressively wet, clamp, and force dry move robust parts of the model like the katanas. 

diy origami samurai swords
Source: Juho Konkkola/YouTube

Using toothpicks, and gently squeeze the paper in places, where required. Continue to manipulate and play with the paper until you form the piece in your mind. 

With that, your origami samurai warrior is complete. Now all your need to do is find somewhere nice to put it!

If you enjoyed this fiddly project, you may enjoy making some dioramas?  

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