East Asian Calligraphy/The horizontal stroke

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The horizontal stroke is a very common stroke, going horizontally from left to right. It is found in some form in nearly every Korean letter, especially the vowels.

Examples of the horizontal stroke:

Chinese characters all the strokes of: 一 二 三
the second and third strokes of 上
the first stroke of the tree radical: 木、村、枚
the last two strokes of the sun radical: 日、早、昔
the last three strokes of the eye radical: 目、省、眠
and so on
Japanese kana 1 Katakana: エ、オ、キ、ケ、コ、サ、チ、テ、ナ、ニ、ホ、モ、ユ、ヨ、ラ、ロ、ヲ
Korean jamo ㄷ, ㅌ, ㄸ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅃ, ㅈ, ㅉ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, ㅏ, ㅐ, ㅑ, ㅒ, ㅓ, ㅔ, ㅕ, ㅖ, ㅗ, ㅘ, ㅙ, ㅚ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅝ, ㅞ, ㅟ, ㅠ, ㅡ, ㅢ

1 It's harder to determine what a stroke is in hiragana, since hiragana is inherently cursive. Stroke-like shapes can be found in あ、お、き、け、さ、す、せ、た、ち、な、は、ほ、ま、む、も、よ、を.

In general, a horizontal stroke is defined by the following properties:

  1. They slant upwards.
    • Theoretically, all horizontal strokes should slant upwards at a very slight angle.
  2. They start hard and end hard.
    • Horizontal strokes don't trail off. The instant before you lift your pencil / pen off the paper should be one where you're applying force onto the paper.
    • However, there is a tendency where horizontal strokes do trail off, if they are on the left half of a character, is not joined by another stroke on the right end, and is the last stroke in that side of the character. This arises naturally, because the pen / pencil / brush goes on immediately to write the right side of the character without stopping. Also as a result of this, the stroke tends to point diagonally upwards, and straight.
  3. They may curve down at the end.
    • Like the dot stroke, this is mostly a consequence of the second point above. As you apply more and more force you tend to draw your hand closer to your body, hence curving the stroke downwards.
    • However, please don't overdo this. This feature should be a natural result of point 2 above. If you find yourself curving the stroke deliberately, then you're definitely overdoing it. If it doesn't curve, then leave it. Horizontal strokes don't need to curve — this applies here even more than it does with the dot stroke.

Let's take a look at three examples, the Chinese character for "three", the Japanese katakana ni, and the Korean syllable for pa:

File:CJK 1-02-01.PNG

All of the strokes of "three", all of the strokes of "mi", and first, fourth, and last strokes for "pi" all show the properties of horizontal strokes.

To show a situation where the horizontal doesn't trail off, here are two Chinese characters, for "bean" and "head", respectively.

File:CJK 1-02-02.PNG

Note that the character "bean" is found on the left side of the character for "head". The last stroke of "bean", a horizontal stroke, is made to trail off and point up.