Edited by Jason Ku

The Models

For Valentine's Day, you'll surely want to do some folding, be it for your partner, your friends and family, or, yes, yourself!

So here are two Valentine's models for you to try out:

Lovers Ring

This is a superb ring with a heart from a rectangle of paper. Francis Ow designed it many years ago, but I believe this is a model that will be new to many of you out there. I got in touch with Francis Ow, and he was happy to give me permission to make a video of his model, as well as draw new diagrams for it. I love that this model can be folded even by beginners, and in just a few minutes.

PDF: http://www.happyfolding.com/files/Ow-Lovers_Ring.pdf

Will you be my Valentine?

Stacy Mannes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/flaregloom/), the designer of this model, is one of the people that I often chat with in the origami IRC channel. It's a small crowd there, but we have happy, small discussions. Stacy showed me his new creation in August 2010, and I immediately fell in love with it. Of course, my first question had to be whether he'd diagram it. And you're lucky, he indeed did, and just in time for Valentine's Day! Stacy did an exceptional job in diagramming the 3D steps, which are hard to capture in diagrams. I also made a video for you to enjoy. It's definitely not a model for beginners, but I'm sure many of you out there will love folding this more advanced model with its cute character.

PDF: http://www.origamiusa.org/system/files/thefold/thefold002-Stacy_Mannes-Will_You_Be_My_Valentine.pdf or http://www.happyfolding.com/files/Mannes-Will_you_be_my_Valentine.pdf

The Differences

A question that is sometimes raised is whether diagrams or videos are better. In my opinion neither is superior to the other. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Movement of Paper

A 3D step in the diagrams for "Will you be my Valentine?" by Stacy Mannes

For example, beginners will often find videos more approachable than diagrams. They need not learn the language of diagrams to start folding.* But it is more than that. In a video people can see how to hold the paper and how to make it do what you want it to. It is one of the aspects I especially stress in my videos, because I believe it is very important and something that cannot easily be described in words and diagrams. The great advantage of videos is that they can capture movement. Of course, the downside is that your fingers may obstruct important areas of the model while folding.

Showing 3D steps is often easier in videos, perhaps because it is hard to draw diagrams that reflect the 3D model correctly without confusing with too many details. But it is also often the case with 3D steps that the movement of the paper becomes more important.

*I've started including diagrams in my videos, because I think it may help my viewers learn to read diagrams. Or, indeed, it may make them aware of the fact that diagrams exist, and that they can explore those, too!

Reference Points and Precreasing

Reference points are usually easier to read from diagrams. Especially models that require a fair amount of precreasing can get cumbersome in a video. You may already notice this in the video to Stacy Mannes' "Will you be my Valentine?". A nice advantage of diagrams is that at any time you can stress existing creases, or hide them completely - depending on what is more appropriate. When recording yourself while folding, making the crease lines visible can be difficult. I've gone the route of marking most creases with a marker, so that they show clearly on the video. But each of these markings is permanent, unlike crease lines that you can show or hide in the next step of your diagram. Especially when much precreasing is done, marking creases can be more confusing than helpful. Both in diagrams and videos it is a fine balance you have to strike.

Speed and Jumping Back and Forth

Videos only have one set speed. If you are an advanced folder, steps may be shown too slowly, or if you are a beginner, too quickly or in not enough detail. It is also harder to stop and start later. It is much easier to remember the step you were at in a diagram than memorising the time you stopped at, and starting the video at that point again later. Or even worse, what if you made a mistake, and you want to jump a few steps back? In a book it is as easy as turning a page; in videos you'll probably have to tediously search for the right spot to begin at again.


Beginners may have troubles repeating the steps on the right half of the model, although all steps are diagrammed.

Steps that need to be repeated are usually not diagrammed separately. The joy of this starts when you have loops of repeat steps within loops of repeat steps. For example, let's take some (not all!) of the repeat steps in Robert Lang's "Atlantic Purple Sea Urchin" as diagrammed in "Origami Sea Life" by John Montroll and Robert J. Lang:

  • Step 37 reads: "Repeat steps 27-36 on the right."
  • Step 39 reads: "Repeat steps 25-37 on this side." (so this includes step 37)
  • Step 52 reads: "Repeat steps 41-51 on the right."
  • Step 54 reads: "Repeat steps 41-52." (so this includes step 51)
  • Step 57 reads: "Repeat steps 41-45."
  • Step 59 reads: "Repeat steps 41-46 on the right."
  • Step 61 reads: "Repeat steps 55-60 on the right." (so this includes both steps 57 and 59!)

This can be an advantage and disadvantage. It is very compact and can save lots of diagramming work. At the same time, less experienced folders will find it hard to repeat a step without more guidance than the previous diagrams. The reason being that the model now looks different. I do remember that in the beginning I found it hard to repeat the same step on the other side of the model, partly because the model looked different, partly because I had to get used to imagining the diagrams mirrored.

In videos you can also choose to skip over repeat steps. My experience is it's better to show the step again at least once. It will help viewers understand how to proceed. Therefore, in my recent videos I rarely skip over sequences. And you can use repeat steps to show it form a different perspective. This can help viewers understand better how to execute a step.


Talking about accessibility, of course the format of diagrams and videos is very different. Some people like watching videos, because it seems more personal. Others like the fact that they can print out a diagram and just carry it around with them. Or they love having origami books in their bookshelf. This is mostly a personal preference and depends on when and where you fold. Paper, after all, is widely accessible, so you should be able to find something to fold with just about anywhere. It is worth noting that there are vastly more diagrams out there than there are videos. With time this may change a bit, but I believe diagrams will stay the main method for sharing the folding of a model.

My Personal Preference

Writing about this topic, I am sure some of you will ask yourselves what I prefer - videos or diagrams? It may be strange for me to say this, but I absolutely prefer folding from diagrams. Indeed, I rarely watch instructional videos for origami models. At the same time I love making models more accessible and introducing them to a different audience using videos. It is a challenge in itself to make a good video, in some ways similar to learning how to teach origami workshops - just that your students won't be able to ask questions. I think what I like about diagrams is that there are so many of them out there, and they are (or have the potential to be) more precise than videos. Perhaps I also prefer them, because I learned to fold from diagrams. I've also diagrammed a couple of models myself - as you can see with Francis Ow's "Lovers Ring", and that, too, is a challenge I like. Most importantly, though, I believe both diagrams and videos are a medium for sharing origami and the passion we have for it - and for that there cannot be too many different ways!