An Origami Man in A Boat

Written by RussellBeginner, People


man in a boat origami model

“Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.”

-Mark Twain


If you talk to any origami creator about their design process, one of the techniques they will mention after a while is ‘doodling’. There are many different techniques for coming up with new models, but ultimately they all boil down to one of two things: you have a design in mind and you fold the paper up to get there, or you add folds to the paper and see where the process takes you. The second of these is doodling. It’s the origami equivalent of alchemy. Experiment a bit, throw a few chemicals together, apply a couple of processes and see whether you’ve struck gold or blown yourself up again.

The Man in a Boat came about while I was doodling. I’m not suggesting it’s gold, but I like it. Regular readers of this site (thank you for that by the way) will know I am a big fan of origami models with simple, clean lines and I think this model fits the bill.

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an origami man in a boat in progress

Folding the origami Man in a Boat

This is an easy model to fold, so it’s suitable for all ages. You can use any paper you like for the Man in the Boat, but it looks best if the paper is coloured differently on each side. One side should ideally be the same colour as a person.

A standard sheet of 15cm x 15cm (6in square) origami paper will produce a Man in a Boat that is 12cm (about 4.75in) long and stands 7cm (approx. 2.75in) tall. It takes about 5 minutes to make this model.

Get a 360-degree view of the model in this video.

Variations on a Man in a Boat

I taught how to make this at a British Origami Society Mini Meeting in London and a couple of people there fiddled with the model and came up with their own spin on it. Robin Glynn, who is behind the website Origami Originals used the extra paper that gets tucked in underneath the man’s head to give him an expression. Paul Hanson, the guy behind Origami Ninjas and Other Paper Sorcery used the same extra paper to add a few reverse folds and create an Elephant in a Boat! Why not see what variations you can come up with.

Man in a Boat Diagrams

The instructions for folding the origami Man in a Boat are available in my book, Origami Made Simple. This is a collection of 40 models, some of which are traditional and some are my own creations. The book is aimed at beginners or people who like folding simple models.  

origami made simple book by russell wood

Get Origami Made Simple in the US here.

Get Origami Made Simple in the UK here.

Other Boat-Related Origami Models

If you like to fold more origami boat models, here are some options that I have written about on this blog:

Get Involved

I’d love to hear your views on my Origami Man in a Boat.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or you find can me on Instagram or Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards too!


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About the Author


Russell has been folding origami since he was 8 years old and has recently written the book, Origami Made Simple. He is on the Council for the British Origami Society and a member of OrigamiUSA. When he is not folding, he enjoys photography and traveling.

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