Writing Chinese Characters with a Pen (and Making them feel a little like they were written with a brush)

Personally, I love writing Chinese characters with a brush. I often like to use a brush pen to practice writing if I'm at a coffee shop.

At other times, I may not have a brush pen with me and so I have to resort to writing Chinese characters with a pen or pencil.

You Don't Have to Write Chinese Characters with a Brush!

When my daughter was in Grade 1 she learned to write Chinese characters with a crayon.

So, you don't have to write Chinese characters with a brush. You can write them with other implements. The thing is, how do you still give your Chinese characters feeling when writing with a pen or pencil? How do you still make them as beautiful as possible? How do you make your pen writing have some of the feeling of writing with a brush?

Aspects of Writing with a Brush

When painting with a brush you can turn it one way or the other to line up the bristles (or to do the opposite.) In addition, you change the elevation of the brush to make the line heavy or thin or to make the line non-existent (when you lift the brush completely.)

And this is one thing that you can carry into writing Chinese characters with a pen or pencil. You can vary pressure.

Given Your Pen Written Chinese Characters Feeling

Generally, there are only three pressure settings with a pen or pencil. You can be lightly pressing, heavily pressing, or you can be not pressing at all. In this latter case, the pen is clear of the piece of paper.

Writing Chinese characters with a pen you can play with pressure to give each of your strokes more feeling.

Basic Pen Strokes for Chinese Characters

Here's a description for writing each of the basic Chinese character brush strokes with a pen. These are guidelines, and when writing combinations of strokes, as in a character, these guidelines will have to be varied so that your strokes have more of a flow.

For a dot, start light, and then increase pressure as you pull the pen to the right and down.

For a left slash, start with a dot, then decrease pressure as you pull the pen down and to the left.

For a horizontal line, start with a dot, decrease pressure as you pull the pen to the right (slightly angle the line upwards as you go to the right) then end with a dot.

For a vertical line (no hook) start with a dot, decrease pressure and you pull the pen down, then end with a dot.

For a vertical hook, start with a dot, pull the pen down, then press down and rebound of the paper upwards and to the left for the hook.

For a downward right stroke, start with a slight dot, move the pen up and to the right a very short distance, then move it down and to the left, end with pressure, and as you pull the pen off the paper move it to the left.

For a left hook, start with a dot, move the pen right and slightly up, then press down, then draw the pen right and down as you steadily decrease pressure.

Note that these descriptions are starting points. I'll try to include more pictures and/or videos at a later date.