How I paint origami paper

How I paint origami paper

People always wonder, where I get that beautiful origami paper. The answer is … I paint it myself. And since I tried so many times before I got good results, I decided to share my technique with you. Below are several examples of what I folded with this type of origami paper. The result paper is equally good for origami tessellations and modulars, that do not have too many layers in one place.

Antique L-45 #origami #tessellation

Opus 68-2 #origami #tesselaltion #corrugation

Tiara var. #origami #kusudama

There are two main problems with painting paper on your own.

  1. Staining of the back (and may happen if you spray-paint paper). It won’t be an issue with the following technique.
  2. Warping is a huge problem. If it is not a watercolour paper it is going to warp. And we want more or less flat sheet in the end. For many years the latter problem would stop me from painting paper…
  3. With some paints (water soluble and sprays) you will get the paper give you the color back, while you are folding. For the last reason I choose acrylic paints. Once they are dry they don’t paint surrounding objects. And they also give a nice ‘plastic’ layer to the paper, that actually makes it more durable.


painting origami paper
All you need to paint the paper: the paint, the sheet to protect the surface, the sponge (you can also use brush), the palette and the paper to paint.

Here’s what I use:

  1. I use acrylic metallic paints, the cheapest ones. You can buy them at Walmart (in art and craft section) or at Michaels. Other shops may also carry them. Among all I prefer ‘folk art’ since they have the most pigment. Each bottle costs like $1.5 to 2.5.
  2. The large sheet to protect the surface.
  3. The sponge. I bought mine for $1, you may also use clean kitchen sponge, I suppose.
  4. The brush (optional). You can also paint with brush, it will give you thicker layer of paint, than with sponge.
  5. The palette to mix the colors (piece of thick cardboard works well).
  6. The origami paper to paint. I prefer tant. I am sure you can use printer paper. And I would even recommend to practice on cheaper paper. If you are looking for bigger sheets of tant (250mm) the good place is here.

Here’s how to paint the paper:

painting origami paper
Spill some paint to the palette. I recommend using multiple colors at once to make a vibrant and interesting coloring. Do NOT add any water. We want to get flat sheets in the end. The sponge is also dry in the beginning.
painting origami paper
Take your sponge, quickly dip to the palette, then rotate it, dip again, do that 2-4 times. Look at the mess at my palette. Then apply in chaotic movements to the paper. For more chaos rotate the sponge every time.
painting origami paper
The same step for the other sheet of paper; totally different 🙂


painting origami paper
Act quickly. Add more sponge strokes and start rubbing the paint with the sponge. You don’t want the color to dry until you finished, so be really quick and chaotic.
painting origami paper
Paint, rub, paint…
painting origami paper
painting origami paper
The harder you push the sponge the smoother the color gets.
painting origami paper
Just painted! The texture became metallic and smooth.
painting origami paper
Lay the sheets on a flat surface to dry. It takes them several minutes to dry. All the sheets are different. They do not look spectacular, rather chaotic. But believe me this difference would add artistry to your folded origami models.
painting origami paper
Other color option: violet metallic paint over blue tant origami paper. When sheets are almost dry (no more tacky) you can pile them, rotate upside down and use something heavy to make them flat again. Or flatter at least.

Do you still have any questions? Ask them here 😉 And I would also like to see what you’ve got when using this technique.

6 Replies to “How I paint origami paper”

  1. Cool technique! Reminds me a little of the Metropol hotel where all the pillars are faux marble. They painted the columns to look like marble because that was more impressive than actual marble…and more expensive than real marble.

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