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How to Make an Origami Elephant

How to Make an Origami Elephant post image

There are many origami elephants, but this one, created by Mr. Fumiaki Kawahata, is one of my all-time favorite origami animals! It’s one whose folding steps I memorized years ago at an origami convention in New York City.

The folding sequence for this particular elephant is a delight and the resulting figure has a delicious, lively three-dimensional quality to it. I promise that you will find yourself folding many of them for your friends and family.  And total strangers will quickly turn into friends when you hand them one of these origami elephants!

This elephant can be made with different types of paper. Tant paper or onion skin paper are great paper choice to make this model. Here you will find instructions to color onion skin paper to use for this and many other origami models.

With permission from Mr. Fumiaki Kawahata, I’m pleased to share a video featuring a step- by-step demonstration of how to make his lovely elephant.

Tips and Suggestions to Make the Origami Elephant

  • Making this origami elephant does require some prior folding experience.
  • If you are a complete beginner in the art of folding paper try folding simpler models before attempting to make it.
  • To make your first elephant use a relatively large square (7 x 7 inches) of thin paper.
  • Onion skin paper or any other paper can be colored following suggestions on this post.
  • To give volume to the origami elephant hold it by the tail at the end of the folding process and tuck the thick flap inside its body.

Symbolism of the Elephant: Strength, remembrance, power, perseverance, good luck, wisdom

I  hope you enjoy this little elephant as much as I have. When you have practiced and folded a whole herd of elephants, try folding a miniature origami elephant like this one!


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{ 92 comments… add one }
  • Mileva Loo August 26, 2016, 10:03 pm

    Thank you so much for the beautiful elephant demonstration. Made my night!

  • Emmanuelle August 11, 2016, 8:22 am

    Merci beaucoup pour cette vidéo avec des explications vraiment très claires et faciles à réaliser. Je pratique l’origami depuis un certain temps. Et rares sont les vidéos aussi claires et généreuses dans les explications . Bonne continuation

  • Aparna August 6, 2016, 7:24 am

    Thanks a lot for the elaborate instructions! I could get it perfect the first time itself!

    • Leyla Torres August 6, 2016, 11:49 pm

      You are welcome. I’m glad you were successful in folding it!

  • Christof Schultz July 20, 2016, 5:31 pm

    Thank you. It worked with a 15x15cm paper just perfectly. I will try building an elephant mobile now. :-)

    • Leyla Torres July 26, 2016, 5:11 pm

      You are welcome Christof. I’m happy you like the elephant and had success with it. A mobile of elephants should look great!

  • weslie July 13, 2016, 2:21 am

    Wow! So easy with the many pre-folds and your outlining the specific folds. The only thing I have to work on is the definition of the front legs. Thanks again for your clear and beautiful instructions!

    • Leyla Torres July 26, 2016, 5:09 pm

      You are welcome Weslie! I’m happy you were successful in making this elephant.

  • Liliana June 17, 2016, 8:44 pm

    I dont get it its hard??

  • Shota May 22, 2016, 11:01 pm

    Impressed by the instruction which is very easy to understand! We can’t believe we’ve made these elephants by ourselves. Thanks!!

    • Leyla Torres May 25, 2016, 2:58 pm

      Thank you for your visit, Shota. I am very happy you succeeded at making the elephant. Congratulations!!

  • Kristen roy February 2, 2016, 1:23 pm

    Mail me one!!!!

    • Leyla Torres February 2, 2016, 1:51 pm

      “Give a woman a fish, and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish, and you feed her for a lifetime.”

  • stefan December 23, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Leyla, thanks for the nice tutorial.
    Your video is well explained and perfect to follow, speed matches exactly, at least for me.

    The design is very nice. I like especially the definition of the front legs.

    • Leyla Torres December 26, 2015, 10:30 am

      Hi Stefan,

      I’m happy you like the elephant and the video. This is one of my favorite little origami “beasts”. Great Kawahata model!

  • Alexandra September 10, 2015, 4:47 pm

    Best teacher ever!! I really admire you cause you need to have a veery good memory to remember all these steps…thank you for the cutest paper elephant!!

    • Leyla Torres September 10, 2015, 5:20 pm

      I’m glad you like the elephant, Alexandra. Welcome to Origami Spirit!

  • Emma August 29, 2015, 6:28 pm

    Thank you so much Leyla! My little boy asked me to make an origami elephant this evening. I have never made one before but remembered seeing this really sweet one on your website before so I gave it a go and now have a cute little elephant to show him in the morning!

    • Leyla Torres August 31, 2015, 10:17 pm

      Congratulations for making the elephant. I’m glad you can share it with your son.

  • mansi August 6, 2015, 10:22 am

    thanks leyla the elephants came out perfect .. made so many for my babys room

  • Ailís April 9, 2015, 10:01 pm

    Hello! Thank you so much for making these videos. I recently started making origami through your website. I made an elephant and he is so cute! Thanks again!

    • Leyla Torres April 14, 2015, 3:38 pm

      Hi Ailís, You are very welcome and congratulations for making the origami elephant! Thank you for writing.

  • Gail March 16, 2015, 9:44 pm

    I made 4 of these elephants for my babies nursery, I love how nice and original they look. I wrote a post about them on my blog if you have a chance to have a look

  • cass March 7, 2015, 2:58 pm

    je trouve votre tuto vraiment cool !!!

  • Chuck February 5, 2015, 8:30 pm

    Leyla – here is a link to my first herd of elephants



    • Chuck February 5, 2015, 8:31 pm
      • Leyla Torres February 5, 2015, 8:43 pm

        Great Chuck…. they are coming along very well. Now you will have to be careful. Origami elephants tend to proliferate much faster than those in Africa and India!

        Thank you for sharing your photo.

        • Chuck February 27, 2015, 9:11 pm

          I tried to make a bonsai elephant – he just fits on the penny. There is now a herd of the elephants at work (someone made the sign); I give them away or leave them behind on tables after meetings.



  • Chuck February 2, 2015, 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much for the video! I did an intranet search and thought that Mr. Kawahata’s elephant was the most life like. Your video was very clear and easy to follow – now my goal is to try and memorize the steps so that I can make a herd!

    • Leyla Torres February 3, 2015, 8:25 pm

      Hi Chuck, I’m glad you like the elephant. It’s one of my favorite origami elephants. I hope you post a link to a photograph of your herd!

  • Sean January 21, 2015, 3:10 am

    Could you make a easier way by any chance

  • Sean January 21, 2015, 3:08 am

    It was too hard.

  • Celia Pratt December 4, 2014, 11:54 pm

    Hi! This elephant is so beautiful!
    Do you by any chance have written instructions for the folds?


    • Leyla Torres December 5, 2014, 9:33 am

      Hi Celia,
      At the moment I don’t have printed instructions that I can distributed freely over the Internet :-)

  • Camille October 30, 2014, 6:04 am

    thank you so much for this diy. You explain very well, even if I’m a novice with doing origimis and I did the elephant ! (and excuse my bad english)

  • Orfhlaith October 28, 2014, 6:20 am

    Thank you Leyla for your cute origami elephants! I love them. I made my very first elephant and it came out perfect with your tutorial.

  • Coral October 18, 2014, 6:14 pm

    Hola Leyla,
    muchas gracias por subir este vídeo del elefante de Fumiaki Kawahata. Es una figura muy hermosa y con un plegado que se disfruta muchísimo. Gracias también por tu web en general. Espero conocerte en directo alguna vez.

  • Sonia October 17, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Thank you for showing us how to origami stuff.

  • Sonja August 25, 2014, 10:22 am

    It is fantastic. I am elephant lover. Now I have possibility to prepare many paper elephants for my family and my friends; so to bring them a little bit of happiness. Thank you. Sonja

  • surender kumar sharma August 2, 2014, 11:14 am

    I am also make elephant but another way but you done amazing ……………

  • surender kumar sharma August 2, 2014, 11:11 am

    awesome work

  • Cheryl gibbs July 27, 2014, 11:07 am

    Dear Leyla
    Thank you for your excellent video tutorial of this appealing little elephant. yYour instructions are so clear and easy to follow. you are obviously an experienced and talented teacher.

    • Leyla Torres July 27, 2014, 11:28 am

      Thank you Cheryl. I am glad you had success in making the elephant. It is quite a lovely origami model, and I was very happy to have permission to teach it here!
      Please help us promoting this site by sharing the videos and links with your family and friends.

  • Hannah July 3, 2014, 5:52 am

    Very cute, and surprisingly easy!

  • Parrot Loves Panda June 11, 2014, 4:12 am

    These are the cutest little elephants ever!!! I made several of them and thoroughly enjoyed it! I find your videos a pleasure to watch and very easy to learn from! Absolutely love your site!!! :)

  • DORKEY PIE June 5, 2014, 6:15 pm

    I like it. It is nice. It is cute. This is cool. I will make one.

  • Gabriel January 11, 2014, 9:04 am

    Gosto muito de origami e você mostra que seu trabalho além de interessante é criativo e animador!

  • Maggie December 19, 2013, 2:46 pm

    how big is the finshed elephant using a 7″ x 7″ paper (18 cm x 18 cm) ? Thank you.

  • Rafi September 20, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Hi, this is a great design. Can you tell me if it requires double sided paper, or is single sided ok?


    • Leyla Torres September 20, 2013, 3:27 pm

      Single color paper is quite ok. If you have paper of different color on each side, one of the sides will not be visible at all.

  • reza August 4, 2013, 2:43 am

    plz share the diagrams!
    its too difficult to play the video.
    thank you very mich

  • Liz July 23, 2013, 4:28 pm

    Leyla, I love your videos. I hope someday you sell them because I’m about to go on a vacation and will not have internet access, but would love to spend the time watching | learning | creating with your videos! Think about it!

  • Gislene Parziale June 20, 2013, 3:47 pm

    Estou encantada com o site, tenho uma menininha de oito anos, que ama demais origami, será de extrema valia, mostrarei para ela ainda hoje.

    • Leyla Torres June 20, 2013, 3:58 pm

      Hi Gislene, you are welcome here. I hope you and your little one enjoy it!

  • Britta June 17, 2013, 9:21 am

    I came across this tutorial on pinterest and found the little elephants totally adorable. I tried my first this morning, the second one is about to be folded. Thank you very much for the great video!

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 9:53 am

      Welcome to the lovely group of origami elephant lovers! Bravo!

  • Nancy June 15, 2013, 12:14 am

    Thank you for doing the video. You make it so easy to follow along. I have never been very good at animal origami, but folding along side your video made it so easy. I will now try it again with tant paper.

    • Leyla Torres June 15, 2013, 9:45 am

      I’m glad you find this video easy to follow. Origami takes some patience and models like this, practice!

  • harriet parkinson June 9, 2013, 11:05 am

    did u make it like an ordanry elephant?

  • Leyla Caroline May 12, 2013, 1:40 am

    Hello Leyla Torres:
      You could teach how to make a dragon land of Dragon City?

  • Pato May 11, 2013, 12:13 am

    Hola leyla! Sabes que desde los 4:44 minutos en adelante el video se ve borroso, lo podrías revisar por favor? Ya que lo estaba esperando tanto!! Muchas gracias! Besos Patricia

    • Leyla Torres May 11, 2013, 10:44 am

      Lamento que veas borroso el video del elefante, pero no sé qué decirte, pues yo lo veo perfectamente en mi computador y otras personas han podido verlo completo y hacer el elefante. Algunas sugerencias:

        • revisa tu conexión al internet
        • prueba en otro computador
        • asegurarte de que tienes banda ancha
        • actualiza tu browser (si tienes internet explorer, lo más seguro es que no te funcione)

      De todas maneras te agradezco que me informes. Le preguntaré a otras personas a ver si tienen el mismo problema.

  • Pato May 10, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Hola leyla! Sabes que no puedo abrir el video! Bueno, te mando un beso enorme y mis felicitaciones por las cosas hermosas que haces!

  • Sagi Tanpopo April 22, 2013, 1:24 am

    It’s so adorable (>w<)…
    I will give it to my friend as a gift. She loves elephant (^w^)

  • angelicaresende April 20, 2013, 11:07 am

    Ufa. consegui depois do terceiro dia,me ensinaram que quando nao conseguimos, para onde estava e continua noutro dia,e assim um passo de cada vez.Como voce dizia paciencia.Obrigado bjos

  • Dan April 19, 2013, 4:41 pm

    A lovely model! :) You can find a picture on my Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danhallorigami/

  • Helena April 19, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Hellow Leyla!

    Last year I was in Bilbao for the Origami Spanish Convention and I met Mr Fumiaki Kawahata. He’s a marvelous person and he teached us how to make this lovely elephant. Since then, I have made lots of little elephants to offer to lots of people. And it’s like you say! Everyone seems to be so happy when I offer this cute Origami!
    Thank you very much to let us learn with your fantastic videos! I would like to make one elephant with the paper you suggest, but I don’t know where I can find the onion skin paper…I will try!
    Thank you Leyla!

    • Leyla Torres April 19, 2013, 7:06 pm

      Oh what did I miss… meeting Mr. Kawahata!! I have been wishing to go to a Spanish convention for a long time… I’ll have to make it happen!

  • Danielle April 19, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Thank you for posting the video to make this very appealing elephant. I can’t wait to try it out!

    p.s., I just noticed your blog background. That’s neat! Did you draw it yourself?

    • Leyla Torres April 19, 2013, 12:39 pm

      Yes, Danielle I drew each little creature for the background, put them into a square and then tiled it!

  • Rosemary April 19, 2013, 10:20 am

    Hi Leyla:

    This wonderful little model was like a symmetrical dance. Incredibly clever design as well as the sweetest elephant I have ever folded.

    Thank you to you, the best of teachers, as well as to the master creator: Fumiaki Kawahata. Brilliant!

    Best always,


  • Sande April 19, 2013, 8:08 am

    This is lovely and although I am a beginner I will practice and practice to learn how to make this sweet elephant. Thank you for your wonderful videos that make it all possible.

  • Briana Wicce April 19, 2013, 7:10 am

    Maravilhoso! Não tenho como expressar a minha admiração por você e sua gentileza de nos ensinar coisas tão lindas! Te desejo tudo de bom! Obrigada!

  • Kathy April 18, 2013, 8:51 pm

    Thank you for doing this. I folded this a couple of years ago but was too sleep deprived to remember how.

  • Sherry gerstein April 18, 2013, 8:19 pm

    What size paper did you use for the miniature elephant? Adorable!

    • Leyla Torres April 18, 2013, 9:36 pm

      Hi Sherry,

      I made the miniature elephant long time ago, so I don’t remember the exact paper size, but it must have been about 2 inches or a little smaller.

  • Ryynette April 18, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Very cute!

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