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Inkscape for Origami Diagrammers: Tips and Tricks

Inkscape is a free program, and can be downloaded from I

am currently using Inkscape version 0.46 on Mac OS 10.5; however, I've also used
Inkscape on Windows XP with no problems.
I recommend that you read the inkscape tutorials, which can be found in the
help menu; they cover the basics of vector-drawing programs, and also cover
most of the common features of inkscape itself. The tools and methods I'm
presenting are mostly advanced functions and time-saving processes that I've
found to be useful when drawing diagrams, and so I'll assume that you can
perform basic functions.
The most frequent problem I've seen is that new users expect inkscape to work
like Photoshop, MS Paint, or other drawing programs. Inkscape is a completely
different thing; instead of editing pixels, you're editing nodes. This means that
there's no eraser; to delete an object, you select it and press the delete key.
These objects are layered, so visualize each step as a stack of polygons instead
of as a set of lines and shading, as you would draw it by hand. Every polygon or
line you draw (Inkscape refers to these as "paths") is editable and customizable,
so it's a completely different mindset than most people are used to. Here's a
short list of tricks I use:
1. Make sure the model really works well before you diagram it! Two or three
times I've gotten halfway thorough drawing, then realized that I had no
way to explain part of the folding sequence, and had to go back and
redraw a page or more.
2. Learn to use the "Fill and Stroke" dialog (under the object menu). There are
so many options there for the origami diagrammer. In particular, dotted
and dashed lines are created automatically (look under the "stroke" tab)
3. Most origami models are symmetrical. Use the Flip functions to take
advantage of this, so you don't have to draw the same thing twice! H flips
the selected object horizontally, and V flips vertically.
4. Again, to keep from having to redraw the same thing, use the rotate
function a lot! Once you've selected an object, click on it again to rotate
5. Use gradients during three-dimensional steps, even if the paper surface
doesn't curve very much. Gradients are located in the "Fill and Stroke"
dialog, under the "Object" menu. They're very easy to use, and they make
diagrams look a whole lot better!
6. While you're drawing your first few diagrams, copy objects that you use
often (arrows, repeat symbols, etc) into a separate document, so you can
reuse them easily, and keep a consistent diagramming style.
7. Before you draw each step, take a moment to figure out the easiest way
to do it. For example, often times I can draw a step just by modifying an
earlier step in the diagrams.
8. When drawing a three-dimensional step, take a photo of the model and
import it (under the "File" menu). Then trace over the photo to get more
realistic perspective, and delete the photo when you're done.
9. Make sure to work on each step at a variety of zoom levels; first
concentrate on the overall shape of the step, then zoom in to fine-tune
the nodes and make sure that everything lines up properly.
10. Resize the diagram when the model gets smaller. Everyone is annoyed
when you start out with a giant first couple of steps, and end up too small
to see properly by step 30.
--Andrew Hudson
Also Andrew has posted a short video showing a quick bit of diagramming in
Please keep those pentagon challenge submissions coming! We are looking
forward to judging your entries!
Photo of the Week
This weeks featured photo comes from Jang Yong Ik. His Samurai Helmet
Beetle is the most detailed Ive ever seen, and it is
very well folded. But I have chosen this photo
purely for photography. Its a close-up on the
head of the beetle, like a portrait. The rest is all
background, and out-of-focus.
Honorable Mention:
for his rendition of Quentin Trollips Wolf. I
really like how he simply captured the familiar
scene of a wolf howling at the moon. The light
paper for the wolf and dark paper for the
background provide a nice contrast, illuminating
the wolf. Great fold too.
A few more color-change puzzles. Can you figure out how to do them
seamlessly too?
Flickr Group
We have a Flickr group set up for you to submit any of your Origami Weekly
related folds, including puzzles and challenge entries.
Feel free to contact us about any Origami Weekly stuff at
1. Fold and unfold the diagonal.
Turn the paper over.
2. Make a small fold along the other
diagonal to mark the center point.
3. Bring the edges to the center point
and unfold.
4. Fold and unfold through the circled
2010 Jon Tucker
This model necessitates paper that holds
its shape well. Foil works well, and wet-
folding with thin paper is best. A good
size for the starting square is about
10-15" (25-35 cm) to a side. Begin with
the white (or back) side facing up.
5. Fold and unfold along the diagonal
through the circled point.
6. Fold along the existing diagonal.
7. Squash the front layer along existing
8. Squash the other layer behind.
9. Fold the front layer to the left. 10. Squash the large flap to the left.
11. Fold the corner upward. 12. Fold two layers to the
13. Fold the corner to the
right edge.
14. Reverse-fold the next
corner along the folded
15. Fold the remaining
corner behind.
16. Unfold to step 13.
17. Fold the right edge to
the left edge.
Repeat behind.
18. Fold 2 layers to the left.
19. Unfold the corner.
20. Fold to the center line
and unfold.
21. Form a small petal fold
while pushing the sides
in along existing creases.
Swing the long flap to the
22. Fold the long flap
up to the left.
23. Reverse-fold. 24. Fold and unfold in half. 25. Fold and unfold in
26. Fold and unfold in eighths. 27. Unfold to step 20.
28. Rabbit-ear behind.
29. Rabbit ear toward you. 30. Continue until you have
pleated the entire flap.
31. Collapse along existing
creases. The tail will not
be flat.
32. Fold the flap down. Be
careful of the thickness.
33. Fold one layer to the
right, flattening the tail.
34. Fold similarly to step 21.
35. Reverse-fold.
36. Fold one layer to the
37. Turn the paper over.
38. Fold one layer to the
39. Repeat steps 34-36 on
this side.
40. Fold and unfold.
41. Open out the top layer.
The model will not lie flat.
42. Make a fold through only
one layer, bringing flap A
43. Bring flap A upward and
squash it flat.
44. This is the result. Fold
and unfold.
45. Reverse-fold.
46. Fold the flap downward,
squashing the model
flat again.
47. Tuck the excess under
the layer above it.
48. Repeat steps 41-47
49. Pull out some loose
50. Squash-fold. Repeat
51. Valley-fold. Repeat
52. Fold and unfold.
53. Fold across. 54. Fold and unfold. 55. Reverse-fold.
56. Unfold to step 53. 57. Partially squash using
existing creases as a
58. Collapse along existing
59. Squash.
60. Fold and unfold. 61. Reverse-fold both sides.
62. Fold upward. 63. Fold two layers to the
64. Reverse-fold.
65. Fold and unfold. Repeat
66. Reverse-fold. Repeat
67. Unfold to step 64.
68. Fold to the crease line.
69. Fold the other flap over
at about the same angle
as the one above.
70. Unwrap the thick stack of
71. Unfold the flap. This will
form a squash through
the thick stack of layers.
72. Fold over. 73. Fold the flap back over.
74. Repeat steps 68-73
75. Mountain-fold the layer
inside. Repeat behind.
76. Pull out one of the angled
pleats from inside the flap.
78. Bring a layer to the right,
opening up the model.
77. Pull out 2 more pleats. 79. Fold the edges to the
center line, making the
model 3D.
80. Reverse-fold the edges. 81. Pinch the tail.
82. This is the result. The next
view will be from the side.
83. Crimp along existing
84. Reverse-fold along
existing creases.
85. Reverse-fold. Repeat
86. Pivot the entire head
assembly back a little bit.
87. Reverse-fold. Repeat
88. Mountain-fold the excess
flap inside to hide it.
89. Fold the small flap down.
90. Rabbit-ear.
91. Mountain-fold one layer
92. Repeat steps 89-91
93. Crimp. There is no
94. Swivel the inside flap to
the right.
95. Reverse-fold the tip. 96. Fold the tip over twice to
form the nose.
97. Pinch the lower jaw gently
to flatten it.
98. Mountain-fold inside.
Repeat behind.
99. Gently round the body.
100. Pleat the flap.
101. Reverse-fold twice to
form a foot.
102. Mountain-fold behind.
103. Reverse-fold the tip.
104. Pleat the other flap.
105. Reverse-fold twice to
form a foot.
106. Swivel-fold behind. The
x-ray lines show the
107. Reverse-fold the tip. 108. Repeat steps 100-107
109. Open out the layer to
form an eye. Repeat
110. Open out the flap to
form an ear.
111. Curl the chest fur around,
wave the tail, and make
final shaping folds: gently
dent the back and pinch
the legs, curve and shape
the belly, and round the
chest and neck.
The finished wolf.