Monday, February 1, 2010

The Art of Origami Dragon Modeling

Most of us have probably heard about origami, and some even had a chance of actually trying it. Even those who think they didn't, in fact, they pretty much did. We all have dealt with paper and, especially in our childhood, have been using paper for everything including the alleged primary purpose of writing on the paper. And one of these uses have probably had to do something with paper folding. I don't know many people who didn't fold paper airplanes and frogs when they were kids, and I don't know any kid that does not know how to do. Well, except the really young ones.

How much fun it was to throw those paper airplanes behind our teachers' backs at each other! And what about various airplane folding schemes? We were collecting the best schemes to fold the best airplanes that flew higher, longer, faster. I personally remember how we with a friend of mine were trying to invent new schemes and modify existing ones to make the best paper airplanes competing against each other.

One could say that this paper folding stuff is for kids, and I would agree, but with a subtle adjustment: the fact that paper folding is suitable for kids, does not mean it is only for kids. There are many books about it, there are lots of articles and websites dedicated to them, all of them are probably maintained not by kids, and the target audience of the most of them isn't children as well. There are serious competitions of paper folding, galleries, museums, and a rich history. Sure thing, I am talking about origami. Origami is paper folding, and paper folding is mostly origami.

Origami is a Japanese word which literally means folding paper. The history of origami lies mostly in Japan, and it is one of the traditional Japanese arts. According to Wikipedia, there were developments of independent paper folding in other places like China or Germany, but they were less common. In fact, it does not really matter now, because origami is currently practiced and appreciated everywhere.

The amount of designs is actually astonishing. Who would think that there are so many ways you can fold a sheet of square paper to make it resemble practically everything surrounding our lives, from Eiffel Tower to dragons, and each has lots and lots of variations with different complexity levels and shapes. Today there are many origami types, like compound origami, but generally, the most popular form of origami should be folded from square paper without gluing or cutting anything. Historical records show that in ancient Japan origami practitioners were lax to these rules.

I mentioned dragons earlier. They hold a special place in my heart, especially when they are origami dragons. What is so special about them? Well, they are cool :) They are beautiful, there are many, many different dragons. They are present in almost every culture in some form. They are a mix of cool-blooded dinosaur reptiles and something very ancient, ability to fly, swim and of course breathe fire! They are fascinating. I absolutely love them.

There are lots of good origami dragon designs. Some are very simple, like a variation of a simple origami crane. Some are immensely complex, with hundreds of steps and dozen of hours required to be spent to fold them. Of course, advanced origami dragon requires a special origami paper, and a master who has his hands growing from the right place to fold it correctly. It is, of course, possible to fold a complex origami dragon while having little experience with origami, but the final result might not look that accurate and beautiful like the original design, probably it will resemble it at most. Also, a beginner could end up being lost in instructions, and that it will take him ten times as much to finish the model. And I'm not even mentioning that a beginner will probably use standard paper to fold the origami dragon.

It is important to understand, that it is really possible to achieve the skill of folding required to fold that advanced origami dragon correctly within reasonable time. You just have to start folding, and fold, fold, fold. You will understand all of the nuances in the process, and when you will be ready to fold something really complex and awesome, you will know it. You can start by folding this simple origami dragon. It does not require any special origami paper or origami experience, you can just take a standard printer paper and start folding. Have fun!

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