Is it possible to use printing paper in origami? The answer is plain and simple: YES, but with few limitations. First of all, printing paper is rather thick. On average, it is 80 g/m2. Even though much thicker origami paper can be found and used, Elephant Hide, for example, almost all types of origami paper are much thinner.
On the other hand, if you are a beginner, printing paper is more than a good choice for several reasons. First, printing paper is omnipresent and easily obtainable in any office supply store, and second, it is much cheaper than any origami paper. Let me show you something interesting. In-office supply stores, so-called origami paper, can also be found. But in reality, what is offered is not much better than printing paper. This kind of paper is sold as origami paper simply because it is cut into squares and is dual-side colour paper, meaning it has different colours on each side. If you look more closely at figure 1, you will most certainly notice that it is still 80g/m2 paper.
So, if we choose to use ordinary printing paper, the first challenge we will face is how to make a square out of A4 paper format. Even though other paper sizes are sometimes used in origami, the square is the most common.
As you can see from figure 2, the procedure is simple and straightforward. What we end up with, is a square piece of paper with one diagonal crease.
The second problem of printing paper is its resistance. Frankly speaking, printer paper is quite weak and can be easily torn. The reason for that is the fact that printing paper is, in its essence, recycled paper. Paper resistance to tearing depends on the lengths of the fibre from which paper is made. Since recycling paper undergoes several production/recycling cycles, its fibres are much shorter. After five to seven recycling cycles, fibres become too short and can no longer be used for paper production.
It’s not all so grey. Printing paper, as its name suggests, can be used in printers. Many beginners find it difficult to translate the Crease pattern onto origami paper, so they resort to printing. Basically, they print/plot the crease pattern onto paper and then try to fold the model using those printed lines as guidelines. The result is a model with a lot of lines which is not very appealing. On the other hand, such a procedure can facilitate a steeper learning curve because the relationship between crease pattern and the final model is clearly visible.
So, if you are a beginner, printing paper is a good choice, there is no doubt about it. As you progress, you will discard the printing paper in favour of a more suitable one.