I’ve recently found the Wikipedia Commons Stroke Order Project, via Sinosplice.

If you’ve checked out many online Chinese dictionaries or websites on learning Chinese, you’ve seen a variety of ways to present characters’ proper stroke order. Animated GIFs are a favorite, but they often fall flat in one important respect: they display each stroke in a single frame, often leaving the direction of the stroke somewhat unclear.

This is where the Wikimedia Commons Stroke Order Project impresses me: not only are the animated GIFs large and attractive, but they fluidly demonstrate the direction of each stroke. A nice example:


from the site:

Hello, and welcome to the Commons Stroke Order Project. This project aims to create a complete set of high quality and free illustrations to clearly show the stroke order of East Asian characters (hanzi, kanji, kana, hantu, and hanja). The project was started as there was none like it in terms of quality and it seems that it is the only one working on all three schools of Han character stroke order; simplified and traditional Chinese, and Japanese.

You are free to use the graphics we’ve made and welcomed to join us and contribute to our progress. It’s easy, you just have to follow the simple steps stated in our graphics guidelines.

Like John, I’m very impressed with the general look of the project, and very happy to see a free alternative to the various proprietary systems we’ve had to choose from before. I am curious how they’ll handle characters with variable stroke order, but I think most students will be happy being able to see an acceptable stroke order for whatever character they happen to be looking up.

There is one thing about this project that’s a bit depressing, though. That’s the near total neglect of traditional characters. According to the Wikimedia page, only three traditional characters have been added!

BlackWhiteRedGradientAnimation
Bopomofo37/40 Done0
Hiragana Done Done0
Katakana Done Done0
Hangeul1/3500
Kangxi radicalsThese aren’t categorised separately. See the progress pages.
Traditional Chinese305
Simplified Chinese1,010181379
Kanji4889

I’m used to traditional characters getting back of the bus treatment in textbooks and online resources for Chinese learners, but this is just sad. Who’s up for adding some Traditional characters to balance this out a bit?