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Stroke Order Changes in Semi-Cursive Handwriting


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Hi All,

I'm interested in developing a highly legible but fluid and elegant handwriting style. My preferred writing instrument is a felt-tip pen, but a fine marker, pencil, or ball-point pen should also be useable with this style. For lack of a better term, I will call this style "行书".

I have been studying standard stroke order[1], however, I have been noticing that the styles I like the most deviates from the standard stroke order. I have been disappointed with my attempts to use standard stroke order in semi-cursive form, so I would like to try some of these unofficial stroke orders.

The problem is, I don't know if there is a standard. Does anyone know of one? A formal standard is not required. I may end up just doing a survey of some nice looking handwriting and just emulating it.

Anyways, here are some examples of what I'm after. from E. H. Jorden's Reading Japanese[2]:




For "曜" it is clear that the 行书 breaks the stroke order for the final component. The order or that component appears to be 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 15 -- referencing the stroke numbers given at left.

For "週" the stroke order appears to be 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 6, 7, 8.

For "出" I am not sure of what order is used. Can anyone tell?

Anybody else manage to learn such a style? Tips?




[1] I have been studying the stroke order given by Heisig in Remembering Traditional Hanzi Vol. 1 & 2.

[2] Yes, I know that standard Japanese stroke order differs from standards used in the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and perhaps even Korea. However, you can see that the Japanese 行书 breaks the Japanese rules given at the left, so the same logic applies. I just used this book because I like the handwriting style and I have it on-hand.

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Sorry, I just realized that this same topic has been raised more times than can be counted. I should have searched the forum first (duh!). I have lots of other posts to read on this subject :).

Anyways, I would be happy just to know what stroke order is used for 出 in the above photo.


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Alright. It's great that you have an interest in this, but I've studied 行書 (and 楷書 too of course) and I'd like to clarify a few things for you.

You can write proper 行書 with a marker or a pencil or whatever. It doesn't have to be a brush, so you're good there. Even if you see an example written with a brush, you can emulate it with whatever you have and it will still be right.

I haven't examined the stroke orders in Heisig, but what you call "standard stroke order" is probably one of the many modern standards, and these standards only apply to 楷書. There is a lot of overlap between 楷書 and 行書 but no 楷書 standard (not even the traditional one) will match 行書. Therefore, you have to study 行書 stroke orders separately.

There is no modern standard for 行書. Perhaps this is for the better, as they'd probably be as error-ridden as the 楷書 standards.

For references, the best examples of 行書 are those of 王羲之, 王獻之, and 趙孟頫. You can look up examples of their and others' writing here. There are also publications like 《王羲之行書字典》 (just search for that and you'll probably find it for free) that collect and organize characters.

Also, 行書 stroke orders are the same no matter what language it's used in. And from your images of Reading Japanese, I think you should just look at the examples and learn to read them, and use the references I mentioned above as your primary writing references.

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