Text-Only Instructions

Credits and Resources:

This butterfly is perhaps the most famous by Akira Yoshizawa

Instructions with supporting pictures and/or illustrations can be found here at

Paper to be used: Square, any size; use large paper to practice with at first.

Folding level: Intermediate

Steps: 18

Description: This is a beautiful butterfly. The wings are flat with the body being slightly raised. It starts                 with the waterbomb or balloon base and is only one of many beautiful butterflies by Akira Yoshizawa, who is considered to be a grand master of the art form and the father of modern origami.


Use this model to make a pretty mobile or as decoration around the house for spring and other special occasions.

It can also be used on cards, in scrap books or to decorate gifts.

If you are using two-sided origami paper, make sure that the side you want to be visible for the top of the butterfly is facing up.

NOTE:  This model starts from the waterbomb or balloon base. If you are able to achieve this without instructions, fold the base and then go to Step 9.

"Step 1

Place a square of paper on your work surface and position it so that the edges are facing up and down, left and right.

Step 2

Bring the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and unfold.

Step 3

Bring the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold.

Step 4

Turn the square over and position it so that its points are facing up and down, left and right.

Step 5

Bring the left point over to meet the right point. Crease and unfold.

Step 6

Bring the top point down to meet the bottom point. Crease and leave folded.

Step 7

Grasp the left and right points of the resulting triangle and push inward. The model should collapse along the pre-existing folds. The result will be another triangle shape that has one folded flap sticking out from the back of the model and another sticking out from the front.

Step 8

Fold the front flap to the left and fold the back flap to the right so that your model will lie flat.

The model will have one open end, which should be facing you.

Step 9 

 Next, grasp the left bottom corner of the triangle (top layer only) and fold it upwards and inwards to meet the top point of the triangle.

The bottom left edge of the triangle will come up to lie straight along the center vertical crease of the model.

Crease and leave folded.

Step 10 

Repeat with the bottom right corner (top layer only).

You should now have a diamond shape lying on top of a triangle.

Step 11

Turn the model over and position it so that the longest, open edge of your triangle is facing away from you.

Step 12

Bring all layers of the bottom point of the triangle up so its point just reaches over the straight edge at the top of the model.

Crease well and leave folded.

The result will be a model with two triangular flaps lying next to each other in the center, with two large flaps, the wings, jutting out on either side.

Step 13

Next, you will unfold the two center triangular flaps of the model (top layer only) towards you again. As you do this, You will notice that at the left and right center of your model there are two small circular ridges that do not lie flat against your folding surface. 

You will have to press down and slightly inward at the left and right outside center of the diamond shape that has now formed, in order for the model to lie flat. 

Your model should now look like a triangle in the middle at the top, two large wings on either side and two separate upside-down triangles nearest you.

Step 14

Fold over the entire left side of your butterfly to meet the right side. Crease well and leave folded.

Step 15

To make the body of the butterfly, you will be making a small crease right at the center of the model.

To do this, pick up your model and hold it so that the two loose triangles, the back wings, are nearest you and the larger triangles, the front wings, are pointing straight up in the air. The model should still be folded flat, so that, if you were to bring your hands together to pray, for instance, the model will lie flat between your closed palms.

Step 16

Now, with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, hold the butterfly in this position by grasping it at the top of its front wings, which are pointing up in the air.

With your other hand, find and grasp the small ridge at the bottom front of the model, which is farthest away from you. This is where the body of the butterfly will be formed.

Step 17

Next, let go of the front wings so that they can open to the sides and press straight down at the center of the model with your forefinger while still hpinching the bottom center of the model firmly between thumb and forefinger of your other hand.

Press all the way down as far as you can, while still holding the underside of the model firmly.

By doing this, you will be pressing all 4 wings flat and forming the small ridge that will represent the body of the butterfly.

Step 18

Turn over your model. Your butterfly should have two large front wings, two smaller separated back wings with a body and head in the middle.

To find the top side of the butterfly, make sure that the body of the butterfly feels like a ridge when lying on a flat surface. 

Making origami accessible to visually impaired crafters through text instructions.

for non-commercial use only.

compiled by Lindy van der Merwe and Georgina Harris, September 2009

Revised: September 2022