East Asian Calligraphy/The dot
The dot stroke is the simplest stroke in East Asian writing systems. Despite its name, it is not just a dot — it has length (sometimes quite long), and direction. In fact, it is the shape of this stroke, and not its length, that makes it a dot stroke.
Examples of the dot stroke:
|Chinese characters||the first and fourth strokes of 六 |
the first, third, and fourth strokes of 心
the first and second strokes of the water radical: 江、河、法
the first and second strokes of the heart radical: 忙、性、快
the first stroke of the walking radical: 送、道、遇
and so on
|Japanese kana 1||Katakana: シ、ス、ソ、タ、ツ、ト、ヌ、ネ、ハ、ホ、マ、ミ、ム、メ、ン|
|Korean jamo 2||ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅉ|
1 It's harder to determine what a stroke is in hiragana, since hiragana is inherently cursive. Dot-like shapes can be found in い、う、え、お、か、く、な、ふ、へ、む、や、ら.
2 Korean jamo tend to be freer in stroke specification, sometimes ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅉ can end on a vertical stroke or a right falling stroke as well.
If dot strokes can come in so many shapes or sizes, then what makes a "dot"?
In general, a dot stroke is defined by the following properties:
- They go downward.
- Most dot strokes go diagonally downwards and rightwards. A few go leftwards, or straight down.
- They start soft and end hard.
- Dot 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.
- They tend to curve down.
- 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 probably overdoing it. If it doesn't curve, then leave it. Not all dot strokes need to curve.
Let's take a look at three examples, the Chinese character for "heart", the Japanese katakana mi, and the Korean syllable for si:
The first, third and fourth strokes of "heart", all of the strokes of "mi", and the second stroke of "si" all show the properties of dot strokes.