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Origami Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics
Original model created on 01/02/2017 - Published on 24/03/2017

Origami Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics instructions and tutorial

Learn how to make origami pixels from paper squares and how to join them into beautiful origami mosaics. There is no glue or tape, the pixels are just folded together to form cool paper pixel art. Folding an origami pixel unit is very easy and takes only a few seconds, and creating an origami mosaic is fun and relaxing. Everybody can do it, so it does not matter if your are an origami beginner, a kid, an origami enthusiast or an experimented folder, you are all welcome to the wonderful world of origami pixels and mosaics!

History of the origami pixels

Origami Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics video instructions

To make a Pixel unit in origami, please follow the instructions from this video on YouTube:

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How to make an origami Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics

Here are the step-by-step instructions to fold a Pixel unit (photo diagram and/or video).

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 1

1. Origami Pixels units. This picture shows 4 origami pixel modules. The yellow and blue pixels are the diamond variation, which is the easiest and quickest to fold. The diamond shape looks quite beautiful as light will be reflected differently, so you will get nice shines and shadows. The green one is a "Lego brick" variation. And the red one is a variation with no crease, and it looks more flat.

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 2

2. A big Space Invader mosaic made of 130 origami pixels.

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 3

3. An heart made of smaller origami pixels, cut from 2 15x15 squares of kami paper.

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 4

4. Pixel flowers. Your mosaics can have some holes, you do not have to join all pixels with 4 adjacent pixels, as long as you have at least one neighbouring pixel.

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 5

5. You can also try to create 3D objects with pixels. But it's best to use larger pixels, as it won't be easy to join some of them. If you join pixels in the back, you can't create closed objects (like a cube), as you would need to be inside the object to make the last locks. One option can be to make the locks on the outside for some of them.

Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics - step 6

6. A Space Invader in love with pixels! :-)

Only one side of the paper will show, so you do not have to use 2 colors paper. Although if you use "kami" origami paper, you will get a nice shine effect for the diamond variation of the pixels. The heart is made from squares that I cut from 2 15x15 cm squares of kami paper.

I hope you will like those origami pixels and mosaics. Please let me know what you think of them in the comments of the video!


Origami Pixels

I am launching a new site Origami Pixels to display pictures of origami mosaics. If you fold some origami pixel mosaics, please send me some pictures (the front of course, but the back is also quite interesting too!) to stephane@origami.plus so that I can add them to the web site and show them in future videos.

I'm always very happy to read your comments, and to see pictures of models that you have folded. Thanks a lot for sending them and for folding my models!

For more fun and easy origami videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. It encourages me a lot to create new origami models and to publish new origami tutorials. Each video takes 20 to 40 hours of work, so your support means a lot to me.

Thank you very much, and happy pixels folding! :-)

Note: this model is an original model protected by international copyright laws. Please do not publish instructions, diagrams or videos that show how to fold it, but instead point people to this page. If you would like to help with the translation of the instructions to your language (or improve the translation), please let me know. Thank you!

Your origami Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics photos

If you fold this Pixel unit, please send me pictures of your paper Pixel Unit for Origami Mosaics so that I can show them here.

History of origami pixels

I created those simple origami pixels modules a few weeks ago. They are very simple and quick to fold, and it is easy to join them together. I looked over the Internet to see if someone had used pixel units like these before, but I have not seen any origami mosaic (with only folding and no glue or tape to hold the pixels together) made with those simple pixels.

I found other origami pixels though. There is an origami pixel created by Max Hulme that was presented at the Origami USA convention in 2008. Max's pixel units look very cool, and the pixels seem to be very versatile, as one can not only make 2D mosaics with them, but also very complex 3D objects and structures. There are some pictures of cool origami pixels animals, dinosaures, hats, and even an origami bag made with pixels on Gilad Aharoni's page.

There is a picture of a cool origami pixels banner made with Max Hulme's pixel units on this report of the Lyon Ultimate Origami convention in 2014.

And here is a picture of a Mario character made with Max Hulme's pixels by ginshun.

Update 24/3/17: Michel Grand told me that Max Hulme's pixels have also been presented at the British Origami Society 40th Anniversary convention in Cambridge. They were used to create an origami eye mosaic, called the Pixel Project. Some of Max Hulme's 3D pixels models were also presented in the convention of the French MFPP in 2008.

More information from Michel Grand (translated). Thanks for sharing all this information Michel!

The "Pixel project" is an idea from Mick Guy, who was the chairman of the British Origami Society. He introduced the idea in an article titled "A Module Challenge" in the BOM 230 (02-2005) in his column "From the chair". The article is developed in the following two issues.

In BOM 231 (04-2005), pixel models from Max Hulme, Nick Robinson and Wayne Brown, all from squares, under the title "Mosaic-Unit".

Other models created by Iris Walker (2005) and David Shall (1978) are published in BOM 232 (06-2005).

Max Hulme's model is published in the books of:

- the Origami USA 2009 Convention and in the BOS Convention 2011 Autumn, instructions for the module and a handbag (234 modules)

— the Tanteidan 18th Convention (2012), instructions for the module and a diagram for a 3D fox (134 modules)

Max Hulme's model published in the Tanteidan 18th Convention (2012) starts with a 3 x 4 format. It is possible to make 6 pixels from a square, and 16 from a A4 sheet.

At first, Micky Guy thought to pixellate a portrait of Robert Harbin, the first president on the BOS. He then choose to reproduce a work from Robert Adrian X, "Picasso's eye" (1990).

I did not find instructions online for Max Hulme's origami pixel. From what I could gather, they are published in the 2009 Origami USA convention book, and in the book of the 18th Origami Tanteidan convention in Japan. Your local origami club might have one of them in its library.

I also found a very interesting research paper titled Modular Origami Halftoning: Theme and Variations from Zhifu Xiao, Robert Bosch, Craig S. Kaplan and Robert J. Lang in the Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture.

In this paper, Robert Lang describes a very interesting Chromatophore pixel unit that not only have a locking system, but can also show different amounts of each side of the paper, in order to have half tones.

In my quest for paper pixels, I also found Evie Salonika's Instagram paper8bit. Evie creates beautiful and creative photographies using square paper pixels. Evie uses pixels that are like mines, but she displays them on their back, and she does not fold them completely, which makes them 3D and creates interesting reflections and shadows. As far as I can tell, the pixels are joined by sticking them on their back, or just arranged next to each other.

I have also seen some 3D modular origami cubes that are joined together to create Minecraft like 3D objects.

That's all I could find on the web regarding origami pixels. Of course pixel art is not new. I fondly remember drawing 16x16 pixel sprites when I was a kid for the first video games I created on my PC in the 80s. The whole screen was 320x200 pixels and there were only 4 colors (including black), the graphic mode was called CGA. Later I created ANSI art using text characters (80x24 characters and 16 colors). And more recently, a lot of people have created paper pixel art by sticking Post-it notes on walls and windows. There is a famous French artist called Mademoiselle Maurice who creates very colorful murals by sticking thousands of origami models such as flowers and birds outside on the walls of many different cities.

To make each origami pixel, you need one square of paper. I used 7x7 cm squares for my big Space Invader mosaic, and smaller 3.5x3.5 cm squares for the heart and the flowers. Once folded, the pixel is half the size of the original square. Which means that if you want to create a mosaic of a given surface, you need paper for twice the surface.

This 2 to 1 ratio is quite good (less wasted paper that does not show), but the downside is that locking mechanism is not very strong. But as you will see in the video, it is strong enough. You can use origami pixels to create 2D mosaics of any size, and you can even hang the mosaics on a wall. Although if you do display the mosaics vertically, I recommend to have multiple points of support. I first tried to display my Space Invader mosaic on a wall by just attaching the two top corners, but it broke the next day. It is made of copy paper which is heavy, and it's big, so when I put it back on the wall, I will attach more pixels.

What do you think of this Pixel unit?

Have you tried this this Pixel unit origami model? How did it turn out? Please tell me, and send me a picture of your model so that I can add it on this page!

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