Martin Hunt was studying math at Southampton University when he decided to start designing origami Star Wars vessels. He became obsessed with the X-wing, and then quickly moved on to other ships and droids — lots of others. He’s now got more than 20 creations from the franchise on his website, starwarigami.co.uk, and a list of 83 more for future designs.
He attributes some of his proficiency to his math degree, saying origami isn’t just art, it’s also science.
“The rules of what you can do with a single square of paper are fixed,” he says. “It’s not just a case of putting brush to paper and letting your imagination run riot.”
Hunt is taking his creations to the wider world. In October, he exhibited some large-scale versions at the London MCM Expo and Comic Con, and he’s seeking a publisher for a book. But he’s sharing some of his designs already, through his website and on YouTube. He’s not the only one out there doing it — Chris Alexander of starwarsorigami.com just released a book — but Hunt’s designs veer toward the more complicated and intricate. He recommends them for intermediate to advanced origami artists, but that didn’t stop us fromtrying our inept hands at the Naboo Starfighter.
What else but the X-wing could have been Hunt’s first origami starfighter? He began with the base from a traditional origami frog, and took the ship through three iterations before settling on the version pictured. He’s also offered step-by-step instructions to building the first edition (see steps 1-17 below).
“The use of the colored side of the paper to form the stripe on the wings was more luck than judgement,” he adds.
Everybody’s favorite droid makes an appearance in Hunt’s gallery, of course. (If C-3PO is your favorite droid, you’re doing it wrong.) Hunt went so far as to bring this little R2 unit to the 2012 London Film and Comic Con, where it had the chance to meet Kenny Baker, the actor who played the little droid.
While some of Hunt’s easier designs can be made in 15 minutes, R2-D2 can take up to two hours — a long time for a form that’s based off a paper square draped over his finger. But it’s not just a crumpled tube; Hunt used precise geometrical patterns to pleat the body, align the holo projector and utility tool, and lock the whole thing down.
The crease pattern for Hunt’s AT-AT walker is available on his page, but to the non-initiated, it looks like a mess of square and diagonal lines. It’s more of a reference for Hunt than a how-to, but he uses blue and red lines to indicate “mountain” and “valley” folds, respectively.
“To recreate one of my designs, I start by pre-creasing the paper in all the right places, and then try and collapse the paper into the model’s base, which can be a very frustrating process, involving clothes pegs, an extra pair of hands, and a lot of patience,” Hunt says. “But once you get enough of the base into position, it reaches a critical mass and the rest can just fall into place naturally.”
The challenge in creating Solo’s ride was hitting the right proportions for the cockpit and the satellite dish, says Hunt. He wound up feeding a flap from the bottom up through the model, in order to get the dish on top.