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Origami King of Saxony Bird of Paradise

As mentioned on previous post, bird of paradise is actually a group of bird species. Each species has their own exaggerated plume, feathers, call, or dance to please the females. Another one that attracted me is King of Saxony Bird of Paradise. This bird only exist in eastern part of Indonesia, and I didn't even know it exist. I guess it is not popular worldwide either.

Photo from Berita dan Ilmu Pengetahuan

I want to design this bird because of the display feathers, which provides interesting challenge. Those feathers are absurdly long, reaching twice of the body length.


I found an idea to use boxpleated style flap, which is opened and squashed to make the segmented display feathers. There is actually a tiny flap under each squash. Once raised, it produces nice shadow effect to represent segment.

The display feathers should be as long as possible, so they obviously are going to occupy paper corners. It is either both on the same edge, or opposite corners. There will be tons of pleats travelling from each flap center to the square boundaries. Choosing to put them on the same edge is better choice since the pleats can connect and we have less amount of pleats to absorb later.

The triple dots denote the flowing direction of pleats. Left side shows more desirable layout since most of the pleats will just connect to each other, while on the right side all the pleats will travel out.

Now I only have half of the paper left for the bird. I continued the design with boxpleating since it will be easier to deal with the pleats from above. First thing is to figure out way to transition the high density pleat from display feather to lower density pleats for the bird's body. It can be achieved by putting a row of flaps that act like adapter.

Row of flaps to transition from higher grid density to lower.

This adapter can convert any different grid size between its above and lower part, as long as they are multiple of 2. It is a nice property since I haven't figure out how dense should the display feathers' grid be. This question can be answered later after test fold in Orihime or real life.

So what will those flaps be used for? One of them could become the head, two others become wings, and no idea about the remaining two. I might be able to use it for body volume. The bird's belly has different color, so I tried to make a flap for color change. In the end I came up with this asymmetric layout because the color changed flap for belly is longer than legs, and better be put in corner. The grid size is 32, with partial 64. How did I came up with that number? It was just trial and error and my affinity to power of 2 grid sizes. Orihime test fold shows a good proportion.

Circle drawn to show the flaps that acts as adapter.

Test fold showed that it doesn't work well. The asymmetry provided necessary flaps, but arranging it to make the bird is too tricky. After spending some time free folding without success, I decided to give up on color change.

I went back to symmetric layout mindset. I added river between the head and wings, put some middle flaps for upper/lower beak and eyes, and incorporated level-shifters to enlarge the surface area for the wings and body.

River separating head and wings/body is shown in green.

I was happy with this structure and will do the fold the next day. The next morning, however, I ate cereal and the sugar rush made me realize that the level-shifters can be fused. It removes the half grid crease on the wings and produced better surface area.

Then I did a test fold. Precreasing the pleats that run at 45° on level shifters wasn't fun. In the end I got this result where the bird looks reasonably good, but the display feathers are too broad.

Test fold.

I would need to increase the density of display feather's grid, which undersireably will increase the amount of pleats that run at 45°. Those pleats will also run through the bird's wings and body, increasing its thickness and causing shaping to be harder. This model's CP started to get more cursed.

Increasing pleat density will cause the areas marked with arrow to get thicker, which runs through the bird's wings and body.

Another thing to notice is the base of display feathers are very thick. It doesn't look good on the bird's head so I got to cover it. The top middle flap that was planned for bird's eye is now assigned to cover the display feather's base, while the middle one become eyes, and the bottom one become beak. The upper/lower beak distinction was lost. 

After staring at my test fold for minutes, I got an inspiration that the display feather pleats can be pivoted on the zig-zag hinge. Now some of them won't propagate to the level-shifter and solved my problem of 45° cursed precreasing and bird's thickness. The resulting and final CP is shown below. I stretched the top & bottom middle flap for the bird's head to provide better proportion, using Tetsuya Gotani's flap stretching style. This process sacrificed the middle one's length, but it's fine since it's going to be used just for eyes.


I had strong coffee to prepare my fortitude for precreasing 96th partials. It wasn't too bad though, since it is just vertical & horizontal without bouncing here and there. Besides, it is only half of the paper. The final fold is shown on top of this post.

The collapse starts from head, then body, and finally the display feathers. The transition from 32 to 96 on hinge requires closed sink that is hard to access. I used tweezers for that part. It got quite thick but still doable without mush. I didn't shape the body since it is already bird-like. Some progress pics below.

Head and body collapsed.

Closed sink on the display feathers.

Widest Elias-stretch & sink I've ever done.

I think the final shaping can use some improvement, but it is the best I can do at the moment. To be refolded once my shaping skill is better.


Watch this video with sound on, the bird sounds like dubstep.


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