How to Fold a Paper Crane

Some years ago, I managed the Tutoring Program at UNC Charlotte. I learned many, many lessons while there and met many wonderful people from all over the world.  However, one of my most favorite lessons learned was how to fold a paper crane.

Andrew Tran was originally from Vietnam, though he had lived much of his life in North Carolina after his family immigrated.  As one of my Chemistry tutors, Tran was hilarious and smart (still is, and now, he is also a dentist). He is one of the most open people I know, willing to share and learn, and it is Andrew Tran who taught me to fold a paper crane.

Tran's Tiny Paper Cranes
Seriously a work of art – Tran’s Tiny Paper Cranes

He did so after folding two for me so tiny that I keep them in an old school medicine jar on one of my bookshelves.  Through the years since, I have folded many cranes – big, small, kissing, holding hands; for weddings, to sit on my desk at work, to leave with a big tip if I really liked the waitress, and finally to make a Crane Tree for my dining room.  With each crane, I am grateful to Andrew Tran for the many skills, flavors, and stories he shared with me.

Next week, I will post “How to Make a Crane Tree”, but before you make a Crane Tree, you should probably first know how to fold a paper crane.

Origami Paper
Whatever the paper, make it square.

 You will need a square piece of paper. Here, I’m using origami paper, but honestly some of the best cranes I have folded were with computer paper or cash register receipts. If you use computer paper, just be sure to tear it squarely (and when you tear be sure to crease several times before attempting the tear).



 Fold it on the diagonal.

Diagonal Fold
Diagonal fold

Fold it in half.

2nd Diagonal Fold
2nd  fold

Do it again.

3rd Diagonal Fold
3rd fold

Open it up, and place in front of you oriented like a diamond.

All Folds Open
All folds open

Fold the right corner down to the bottom point.

Bringing Right Corner Down
Bringing right corner down

Bring the corner that is now sticking up over to the right corner.

Bringing Next Corner Down
Bringing next corner down

Bring the left corner down to the bottom point.

Bringing Left Corner Down
Bringing left corner down

Bring the corner that is now sticking out down to the bottom.

Bringing the Top Corner Down
Bringing the top corner down

Press to crease the paper into a small diamond.

Folded into a Small Diamond
Folded into a small diamond

Fold the right corner over to the center point and crease.

Folding Right corner to the Center
Folding right corner to the center

Do the same to the left side.

Repeating on Left Side
Repeating on left side

Flip the paper over and repeat process on the other side.

Flip and Repeat
Flip and repeat
All Corners Folded
All corners folded

Fold the top point down to the center. Flip over and repeat.

Folding Top Point Down
Folding top point down

Now, unfold.


Flip over and unfold.

Both Sides Unfolded
Both sides unfolded

Grab the first layer’s bottom point and lift the paper open.


Fold both sides of the opened piece to the center and crease.

Folding to the Center
Folding to the center

Flip and repeat the process.

Flipped and Repeated
Flipped and repeated

Fold the right point in toward the center and crease.

Folding Right Corner in to Center
Folding right point in to center

Repeat with the left point.

Folding in Left Point
Folding in left point

Flip and repeat.

Repeating on the Flip Side
Repeating on the flip side

All folded in.

Folded In
Folded in

Pick up both the left and right point and bring them together.

Picking up the points and bringing them together
Picking up the points and bringing them together

Pick the piece up and bring together the points on the back side as well. Crease so it lays flat.

Points together on both sides
Points together on both sides

Fold the bottom point up so that it is flush the with rest of the folds.

Folding Bottom Point Up
Folding bottom point up

Flip and repeat.

Flipped and Repeated Again
Flipped and repeated again

Pick the piece up, turn 90 degrees, and open it up.

Opening Up
Opening up

Crease flat.


Pick it up again and pull out the legs inside. Be sure to pinch the bottom so they stay out.

Legs pulled out
Legs pulled out

Pick one side for the head and crease by pushing the point down.

Pushing point down to form head
Pushing point down to form head

Now it’s starting to look good.

Starting to look good
Hey, it may actually be a crane!

Fold the wings down.

Folding down wings
Folding down wings

Now, look. He’s a little flat. Grab the crane by both wings and pull out and down to inflate his body.

Flat Crane
Poor guy needs a snack…


Inflated Crane
That’s better!

Push his wingtips up, and voila! You have made a crane.

Finished Paper Crane

While it may not be as good as Andrew Tran’s, it’s a good start. And if you decide to make a Crane Tree, you get plenty of practice.

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