An origami base is a basic shape that is folded from a flat sheet of paper (usually square, but sometimes rectangular, hexagonal, circular, etc.) as an intermediate step between the plain paper and the final folded form. There are dozens of bases, but the two most common are the "preliminary" and the "diamond". The diamond is actually folded from the preliminary.

Disclaimer: The instructions that follow require rudimentary knowledge in high school geometry (or trigonometry) and a very open mind.

The preliminary base is one of the most elemental forms that can be folded; only a few designs do not use it (like the origami cup). Essentially, it looks like a square, yet it is a quarter of the size of the paper it was folded from.

It is folded thus:

  1. Take the piece of paper you wish to fold. Fold it in half to create a rectangle one way, crease it, unfold it, and do the same the other way, but on the same side of the paper.
  2. Fold it in half along one of the creases. This will create a 2:1 rectangle. In your mind, think of one half as "part A" and the other as "part B". Make sure the open flaps are facing towards you.
  3. Fold part A in half towards you to create a 45-45-90 degree triangle on side A, keeping the square on part B. Turn the piece of paper over. Part B should be on the left and part A on the right.
  4. Fold part B down in a similar way as part A, but on the other side.
  5. Grab the inside of the design with your thumbs and lift the front and back away from each other while pushing the left and right sides toward each other. Flatten the design.

The diamond is the foundation for the origami crane and the origami dragon. It is one of the most common bases to use in the creation of other designs. Basically, it looks like a diamond with the width the same as half the length of a square widthwise, while the length is the same as that of the length of the same square diagonally.

It is folded like this:

  1. Fold the preliminary base. Hold the base in such a way that the open end faces you, and the points face forward, backward, left, and right.
  2. There should be four flaps. Fold the ones on the front side inwards to create a kite design. Flip the paper over and do the same to the other side. The paper should be kite-shaped.
  3. Note how there is a small triangle on the top of the kite. Fold it backwards. Unfold the two lower flaps. lift up the large flap from the bottom of the design upwards and crease the diamond shape that results along the previous creases.
  4. Flip the design over. Unfold the lower flaps and lift up the large flap like before, creasing the whole design like before as well.

You now have a completed diamond base! I apologize in advance for my descriptive skills (or lack thereof).