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12 SHAPES OF COMPLEX ORIGAMI: An infographic fanzine.

12 SHAPES OF COMPLEX ORIGAMI: An infographic fanzine.

Course documentation.
In this course, we learned about various theoretical aspects about infographics. What makes them a powerful tool for storytelling? What types exist? How do we work with data sets? In day of information communication, it is essential to learn about these tools and how to use them reasonably. As a final project, the assignment was to create a fanzine about a new hobby of ours and explore self-observational aspect during the process.



„Hi there!“

An introduction video about myself, highlighting some of my strange and possibly funny quirks.

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EX01_Quantified Self I

„My origami behavior over 5 days“

An „attempt“ at self-observing myself with my hobby. I wasn't able to collect a lot of useful data as it turns out that week was the only time where I didn't fold anything (I just thought about it a lot, which makes it hard to count accurately).

EX02_Quantified Self II

„How long does it take for me to make double-tissue paper?“

An infographic poster about creating a thin and flexible paper that is suited for complex origami models (with four different infographic approaches)



TH01_What makes a good infographic?

To create a good infographic that is both engaging and easily accessible, great storytelling is key. Through stories, one can convey information through dramaturgy, beginning from an interesting premise and illustrating the rest of the journey. Other ways to enhance engagement are interesting settings, connecting viewers through personal anecdotes or informative „killer facts“, using reliable sources such as relevant personalities and humor.

Image sources:

„The Long March“ (2014) by Alberto Lucas López

„What if it was your city?“ (2015) by Alberto Lucas López

„Pollution Profile“ (2015) by Alberto Lucas López

TH02_About data sets

To create reliable and relevant content for infographics, the use of datasets is essential. Before the dataset can be used to create a story, there are different steps that need to happen before such data is usuable for your story (especially if you still need to figure out the story).

Data has to be brought into a certain structure so it can be processed by machines, (indexing) allowing for an efficient way to detect relevant individuals, elements and groups. Other aspects that can and should be considered during the data analysis are: outliers/anomalies; averages, highs and lows; the refutation or vindication of stereotypes. By doing so, you are able to discover stories that are inherent in your data.

Image sources:

„Painters in the making“ (2013) by Accurat

„The future, as foretold in the past“ (2013) by Accurat

„Atlases of world history“ (2015) by Accurat

TH03_Types of infographics

Infographics can take many forms; each of which has its use for a particular means of showing information. There are four main categories of infographic structures which have their own subsets of variants: Line charts, pie/circle charts, bar charts and flow/process charts. Less common but equally valid ways to convey information include pictograms and thematic maps.

Image sources:

„L’Opera Canta In Tedesco“ (2012) by Valerio Pellegrini

„Weather Eindhoven 2014“ (2014) by Sonja Kuijpers

„G08 - Travel the Distance“ (2016) by DensityDesign Lab

TH04_The "Orange Peel Problem"

One particular issue that arises with thematic maps is known as the „orange peel problem“. This phenomenon describes the challenge of accurately transferring a spherical surface to a flat one without any kind of warping or distortion of map information. Cartographers have been dealing with this problem since Leonhard Euler, a very prolific and famous Swiss mathematician and physicist from the 18th century, provided the first proof in 1777 that mapping a sphere’s surface onto a plane is not possible without distortions. Using different kinds of map projections (which are all systematically distorted for different use cases) enable the detailed studying and comparison of specific areas and regions.

Image sources:

„Beneath the Oceans“ (2012) by National Geographic Magazine

„An Apeeling Webmercator Map“ (2019) by Chris Whong

„A Field Guide to Map Projections“ (2020) by Where Exactly Maps

TH05_The history of infographics

First considerations for the use of infographics came from the Vienna Circle in the mid 20s to mid 30s. The Vienna Circle were a group of philosophers and scientists which came from various educational fields of expertise (e.g. natural and social sciences, logic and mathematics). Following the ideals of the Enlightenment, members debated and contemplated reasonable and logical means of unifying philosophy with science while rejecting metaphysics. One of the most notable members was Otto Neurath, an Austrian-born philosopher of science, sociologist, and political economist. He is known for inventing and developing the picture language known as „ISOTYPE“, which was a visual means of conveying statistical information through pictorials. By compressing complex information to visual images that were simple to understand and quick to interpret, information became more accessible to a wider audience. This was further accelerated through the age of digitalization, enabling a dissemination of knowledge on a global scale, crossing language barriers and cultural borders.

Image sources:

„A New Chart of History“ (1769) by Joseph Priestley

„Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812–1813“ (1869) by Charles Joseph Minard

„Adams Monumental Illustrated Panorama of History“ (1878) by Sebastian C. Adams



My collection of origami paper

Since getting into folding complex origami, high-quality paper is essential. Which can be expensive, depending on what paper I want to use. Fortunately, I discovered that handmade double-tissue paper is the perfect paper to suit all my needs. Tissue paper itself is fairly affordable (which might explain why I have already spent more than 100 Euros on it...). I have also purchased other kinds of origami paper to experiment with the material even further but so far, I'm happy with making my own origami paper at a cheap price.

A few glimpses into the process of making double-tissue paper

Honestly, making the decision of creating my own folding material was the best I could've ever made. It is such an easy and straightforward method and there are not many ways it could go wrong. At the end of my documentation phase, I have create 30 sheets of double-tissue paper and I have pretty much perfected my way of doing it. There is something very relaxing about gluing paper together and it's something I quite enjoy.

Example of a folding sequence (Model: „Raijin“ by Hojyo Takashi)

Here are some screenshots about how I go about folding a complex model. The approach is mostly the same: Pre-creasing a grid, pre-creasing everything else (other reference creases), collapsing the paper into a flat folding base and shaping the details (e.g. arms, wings, etc.)

1: Crease pattern (CP)

2: 64x64 grid

3:  Pre-creasing

4: Collapsing

5: Base model

6: Shaping

7: Finished model

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A collection of complex models I have folded

I have been working on three different series of complex models: A series about cranes, humanoid models and winged mythological beast.

They are now setting up camp on my piano and it's been a while since I played any music…

A more detailed textual description about my process (careful, nerd alert!)


For complex origami models, what you need is a paper that both thin and flexible enough to accommodate a lot of layers. Enter double-tissue paper. As the name implies, it consists of two layers of thin tissue paper which are glued together. It's extremely thin but also doesn't tear easily. That's due to its integral structure which is fortified through the binding of methylcellulose (MC). The MC glue, which I also have to prepare beforehand, enhances the overall integrity of the paper and makes it strong and durable. 

The resulting paper is crisp and holds creases incredibly well. Without the extra treatment of MC glue, I for sure wouldn't have been able to create complex models! It's also possible to bind even more layers of paper together to make it even stronger (since the tissue is so thin, thickness won't be a problem at all). With one jar of MC glue (500ml), I can create roughly 10 to 12 sheets of double-tissue paper (sizes 50x65cm and 50x75cm). 

Since the end of October, I've made 30 sheets of double-tissue paper in total; it is a very easy and relaxing part of the process, I enjoy it very much! Especially using the foam brush to apply the glue to the paper. There's something vey zen about repeating big and consistent brush strokes until everything is smooth and shiny. After 30 times, I've become quite comfortable with this process and I've definitely noticed a big improvement in the result after the third time or so. In the beginning, the paper ripped a few times, I really had to learn to be more gentle with the brush. 

Another lesson I learned was to let the sheets air dry whereas rushing that process with a hair dryer results in warped paper. Sure, you can make things faster but if it ends up being sloppy, it's better not to do it at all (that's both the perfectionist and aspiring zen master in me). I mean, it only takes around 3 to 4 hours to dry (and if there's one thing that origami has taught me, it's patience). By taking my time with each step of the way, my craft becomes as earnest as it can be. The technique of gluing thin sheets of paper also allows me to decide if I want to have paper with different colored sides as well (at the moment, I have 21 different colors of tissue paper that I can choose from which allows for a huge variety). 

It also doesn't matter if the paper that I start out with is wrinkled or crumbled, the MC glue really smoothes out most of it. I purposely make my paper slightly wrinkled as I quite like the textured feel of it. I also have the option to scale my paper by overlapping sheets during the gluing process to make it even bigger. The standard size I'm usually working with is 50x50cm which is rather on the lower end for the recommended size to fold complex models but so far, I haven't had any problems with it. 

When the paper has dried, the only thing left to do is to cut it into squares; I always end up with one big square (50x50cm) and either 2 or 3 smaller squares (25x25cm or 15x15cm each, depending on the total size of the tissue paper) and there's barely any paper waste! To be efficient and accurate, I also use a method where I only have to make one cut to create perfect squares.


For the folding part, I don't use a lot of tools in the beginning. Depending on the complexity of the model, folding can be very straightforward. It can also be quite torturous. There are different resources I use to fold origami models. The simplest way is to follow a diagram where the folding process is sequential. Sometimes this can go quite but there have been times, where I would spend quite a long time to figure out a specific step (this happens when a lot of simultaneous steps happen at once and the illustration is too unclear and cryptic). Other resources I use for my folding are video tutorials (which makes things quite easy to follow along) or photo diagrams (this one's more tricky if the steps aren't documented well enough). 

The last thing I use are CPs. CPs are „crease patterns“ which are basically blueprints for the overall structure of the model. Unlike sequential folding, CPs compress everything to one diagram. They don't record every single crease though; they only allow you to get to a base structure. Everything else you need to figure out yourself (you can also study photo references by the original designer or other folders too). Folding from CPs is a highly advanced skill because you have to be able to read how these structures are folded. It's not something I'm most proficient in, but after having completed more than 10 complex models, I'm beginning to recognize familiar structures and how to deal with them. I'm definitely not as overwhelmed as I used to be with CPs and I'm fairly optimistic that I will be able to fold from CPs more confidently from here on.

Most of the complex models I have chosen to fold thus far are based on something called „box-pleating“. It's a very popular design technique in complex origami to have a systematic way of creating appendages. That's why a lot of humanoid models have a box-pleated structure. In box-pleating, you always start out with folding a grid (which can be quite time-consuming depending on how many grid lines are required; the biggest grid I have folded thus far is a 64x64 grid). It used to be my least favorite part of the folding process but I've come to enjoy it over time since there's something quite relaxing about these repeating motions. After having complete the grid, I move on to the rest of the pre-creasing. Yes, the „pre“-creasing. With complex models, you don't simply rush into sequential folding, you need references to make the following steps as comfortable as possible. The pre-creasing is a very important stage during the folding; sloppy creases result in a sloppy model. 

When the pre-creasing is all done, it is time for my next favorite part. If everything up to this point has been done neatly, the paper needs to be rearranged into a „base“ from which you can then develop your model. This step is called „collapsing“. Here, I have to make sure that ever crease structure is resolved and everything lines up together. During this part, the paper never lies flat and I have to be careful that I don't lose the orientation. In cases where handling the paper becomes unwieldly, I use wooden pegs and binder clips to hold the different layers of paper together to make it more easy for me. To get into small areas of the paper, I use a modelling tool so that each fold lines up as accurately as possible. This step can be very tricky, it's like solving a puzzle. It's also very rewarding when you have a fully collapsed base in the end that folds flat. After the base is completed, it's time to work out the details (also known as „shaping“)


The last stage of my origami process is easily my favorite because I've discovered I'm quite good at it! It's also the one part where I can be truly artistic and imbue the model with a personal touch. During what is called the „shaping“ part, I use glue. A ton of glue. Now, using glue isn't a traditional tool in what one might consider „classic origami“. That is definitely true. However, for complex origami, glue is just a means to enhance the model in its structural integrity and form. Since complex origami is known for a huge amount of layers, the addition of glue keeps everything nice and tight. Glue allows me to shape fingers and toes really crisp or make crane legs very slender. It can reduce thickness significantly. 

With a modelling tool, I insert glue (usually craft glue) between most layers of the model (this definitely takes a lot of time and it can also be quite a sticky mess) and „massage“ the respective areas with my fingers and fingernails (wooden pegs and binder clips are helpful tools to make things keep in shape while the glue is drying). This is the moment when I become more like a sculptor, rather than a folder. There are no instructions for how you shape a model, it is entirely up to me and my fantasy. I especially try to make everything round and curvy (not unlike wet folded origami) and three-dimensional. Especially when the model has wings, I spent a lot of time until the wing has the „perfect“ curvature. Small details like facial aspects are usually done with tweezers. I might even use a bit of cotton to fill out a model, giving it extra volume. For me, the shaping adds a lot of texture and makes the model feel more organic. 

When I'm satisfied with the shaping, I think about how to pose the model. Creating dynamic and striking poses is essential to my process and artistic vision because it's another step to make the model even more alive, more exciting. I'm especially fond of creating asymmetrical, diagonal poses. To make a model assume a specific pose, I use malleable wire to shape the model in the desired position by wrapping it around the appendages and the torso. Then, I coat the entire model with MC glue and let it dry completely before I remove the wire. The model's new pose is now permanent. The MC glue also cleans up any residual traces of messy glue work from the shaping which is a really new side effect. What started with MC glue, ends with MC glue. How poetic.

(What usually follows is me admiring my work for hours, showing my mom and then take really cool photos before I post them online and show all my friends, haha)




12 Shapes of Complex Origami: Stepping into an advanced world of the ancient art. of paper folding. 


I've always been fascinated by origami ever since I first got exposed to this wondrous art of paperfolding 11 years ago. Back in grade 9, I would fold traditional cranes, small dragons and koi fish from graph paper with my classmates (this would happened during math class, it was an excellent way to distract yourself from tedious math equations). Back then, I was somewhat aware that more advanced models existed but that fact didn't fully permeate my mind until I did some deeper research. My mind was blown by the sheer complexity and the fragile beauty that origami could express and I was eager to follow suit, being extremely intimidated but also very tickled by this seemingly insurmountable prospect. Unfortunately, I lacked the necessary skills, motivation and patience; most of my attempts at these complex models would end up in utter failure. Feeling very dejected, I stopped pursuing origami, only folding the occasional models of intermediate complexity from 2011 to 2014. The only real success I had during that time period was modifying the crane by shaping its features to become more three-dimensional, turning them into small sculptures. It would take me 4 more years to revisit the world of origami: I was particularly focused on the traditional crane model, trying to fold different variations and also honing my sculpting skills that I had first acquired with a modified version years back. It was a short-lived time, however, and I quickly forgot all about it. Until now. 3 1/2 months ago, a friend of mine, who was aware of my love for origami, randomly sent me an origami diagram with the finished model attached to it, challenging me to fold it. The diagram, however, did not correspond to the model that was depicted on the diagram, so I looked for the proper instructions. While searching, I scrolled through dozens and dozens of origami diagrams. Especially seeing all these familiar images of complex origami models, I became determined and my interest in origami was once again rejuvenated. Since then, I've never been more obsessed with origami. I began buying lots of high-quality origami paper, even making my own origami paper in the process and finally succeeded in folding my first super complex models. During this process, I also elevated my shaping skills to newfound heights.

About the topic

When people think about origami, most people think about very basic things like the traditional crane, boats and paper planes. And while that's certainly how origami started out, it has since transformed into an intricate and demanding aesthetic craft. Having existed for 15 centuries, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, a whopping 98% of innovation has emerged in the last 2% of the craft's existence. It's both an old and young art form: 50 years ago, one could catalogue all existing origami design on a single sheet of paper with each model consisting of no more than 20 to 30 steps, taking a few minutes to fold each. Now, the recorded origami designs span thousands and the most sophisticated models with hundreds of steps take several hours for experienced folders to create. The world of origami has enjoyed a renaissance and a tremendous acceleration in its evolution over the past 4-6 decades, not only in Japan but worldwide. Beyond its visual pleasure, the concept of origami has been applied even in the fields of mathematics and engineering where, for example, its techniques have been used to perfect automotive airbag deployment and space telescopes. The goal of this fanzine is to give you a glimpse of this advanced world or origami by showcasing my personal journey of creating complex models and the process that goes into that (e.g. making my own origami paper, tools that I use, shaping, etc.)


1: The BEGINNING (introduction to the topic)

2:  The TIMELINE (outlining the journey from beginning to now)

3: The PROCESS (prepping, folding, shaping)

4: The SHOWCASE (complex models that I've folded between October to February)

Moods / Visual inspiration

Flat plan (first draft)

Test spread



The final spreads of my fanzine

This fanzine consists of three parts: An introduction to the topic, plus a personal timeline connecting me with my hobby; the process I have developed over the last 4 months; 12 selected models I have folded from October 2020 to February 2020.

High-resolution images

For your reading pleasure :)



A poster about twelve complex origami models I have folded in the last 4 months (October 2020–February 2021)

While not part of the assignment, I wanted to work in a poster as an addition to the fanzine. Using assets that I have already created for my fanzine, I created an overview of my twelve models- Each model is accompanied by their unique crease pattern, highlighting the inherent folding structure.



Creating this fanzine has been a challenge in many ways. After four months of intensive folding, I have learned so much about the world of complex origami. The origami types that existed, the different folding and shaping techniques and other technicalities, different paper types and their specific uses, highly specialized tools, etc. My main struggle with this was, „Hey, I'm really into all of this but… how I can I make all this knowledge accessible to a broader audience?“ My initial mistake was the lack of focus as I wanted to cover a broad spectrum of, well, everything. 

But that was and should not be the point of a fanzine. Fanzines are specialized publications that were made from the eyes of an enthusiast, they are in fact a subjective view of the writer. I had to shift my general approach to a highly personalized one; how do *I* tell people *my* story? What have *I* learned and how have my made this topic *my* hobby? I really had to reflect on the experiences and the challenges I have encountered during my entire process of folding complex origami. Noting down key aspects, milestones and other essential information that was unique to my own personal process. Until the very end, I have changed my concept a bunch of times until time constraints forced me to focus on the most important things (one of reasons why I haven't managed to print out the fanzine, I do hope I can do that during the summer). I had to reduce and simplify a lot of information, to make it more digestible for the reader. Creating an interesting layout on a square format also limited a lot of my possibilities (but it just made so much sense working on a square if the topic is about folding a square piece of paper). I used a lot of white space and a soft color scheme that was soft on the eyes. I wanted this to be a light read, something that can be done effortlessly while still maintaining the core interest I deemed important to my hobby. Have I succeeded? Well, let's say, I've never struggled this hard with creating something that was more personal to me. 

It was an interesting (and stressful) experience for sure, but there were valuable lessons to be learned. Sometimes, the most simple and elegant solution to a problem is right in front of me, only to be hidden away due to my own stubbornness. In those cases, one needs to take a big step back, breathe in a couple times and remind oneself of the story at hand. What is my story? What do I want to tell? And how do I do that in the most efficient way? Information can only be made accessible, if it's presented appropriately and bit by bit. Overwhelming the reader through loads of information, just to make the visual „seem“ interesting and complex, is a superficial way to create content. And with that, I have learned my lesson. Also, I can finally get back to folding now :)



Instagram Promotion

If you are interested in seeing more of my origami, make sure you check out my origami account on Instagram :)

There are also some more origami models on my main account which I have uploaded to my story highlights (this was before I made my origami account):

Ein Projekt von



Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im Grundstudium


Prof. Lisa Bucher

Zugehöriger Workspace

Mein neues Hobby. Ein infografisches Fanzine


Wintersemester 2020 / 2021