Stroke Fanning

Stroke fanning is a compact method for showing stroke orders in characters or gestures. It works by shifting strokes horizontally so that they can be read from left to right.

The starting point of each stroke is indicated by a dot, as in some gesture alphabets. The leftmost dot indicates the first stroke. The second stroke is indicated by the second leftmost dot, and so on until the last stroke.


Animation: A popular technique on computers, but cannot be printed. Also, it can be distracting, and focusing on a specific stroke requires to wait for a full animation cycle.
Storyboard: A popular technique in textbooks, but requires lots of space.
Annotation: Another popular technique in textbooks, but requires the character to be very large for all annotations to be legible.
Storyboard + annotation: A technique used in the Wikimedia stroke order project that also requires lots of space.
Colors: Another technique used in the Wikimedia stroke order project. Cute but becomes unusable above 5-6 strokes due to human limits in color discrimination.
Fanning: Compact and legible, which makes it appropriate for small-font printouts such as dictionaries or cheat sheets.


Click on the image above to see stroke orders for the 500 most common Chinese characters (pdf 2MB). A few stroke orders are missing because they are not in ZDT's database.


StrokeFanner is a Java application that lets you make your own Chinese stroke order cheat sheets and export them to PDF. StrokeFanner uses ZDT for its stroke order database and freehep for generating the PDF files.

Download StrokeFanner (.jar 2MB).


Pierre Dragicevic (www)
License infoCreative Commons License