When applying CSS3 inset box-shadow or border-radius directly to the image element, the browser doesn't render the CSS style perfectly. However, if the image is applied as background-image, you can add any style to it and have it rendered properly. Darcy Clarke and I put a quick tutorial together on how to use jQuery to make perfect rounded corner images dynamically. Today I'm going to revisit the topic and show you how much more you can do with the background-image CSS trick. I will show you how to use box-shadow, border-radius and transition to create various image styles.

View Demo Image Styles

Problem (see demo)

Take a look at the demo and note that there is border-radius and inset box-shadow applied in the first row of images. Firefox does render border-radius on image element, but doesn't render the inset box-shadow. Chrome or Safari doesn't render the border-radius and inset box-shadow at all.

border-radius problem

Workaround

To get the border-radius and inset box-shadow working, the workaround is to apply the actual image as background-image.

code

Dynamic Way

To make it dynamic, you can use to jQuery to wrap the background image dynamically for every image element. The jQuery code below will wrap all images with a span tag and apply the image source as the background image (jQuery code by Darcy Clarke).


<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.5/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
$(document).ready(function(){

  $("img").load(function() {
    $(this).wrap(function(){
      return '<span class="image-wrap ' + $(this).attr('class') + '" style="position:relative; display:inline-block; background:url(' + $(this).attr('src') + ') no-repeat center center; width: ' + $(this).width() + 'px; height: ' + $(this).height() + 'px;" />';
    });
    $(this).css("opacity","0");
  });

});
</script>

Output

The above code will output the following HTML code:


<span class="image-wrap " style="position:relative; display:inline-block; background:url(image.jpg) no-repeat center center; width: 150px; height: 150px;">
	<img src="image.jpg" style="opacity: 0;">
</span>

Circle Image (see demo)

Now that the image is applied as a background image, you can pretty much add any style to it. Below is a simple circle image created with border-radius. If you are not familiar with CSS3, read my tutorial on the Basics of CSS3.

circle image

CSS


.circle .image-wrap {
	-webkit-border-radius: 50em;
	-moz-border-radius: 50em;
	border-radius: 50em;
}

Card Style (see demo)

Below is a card-like image style created with multiple inset box-shadow values.

card style

CSS


.card .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 0 1px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.4);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 0 1px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.4);
	box-shadow: inset 0 0 1px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.4);

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

Embossed Style (see demo)

With some alterations, I can turn the card style into embossed style.

embossed image

CSS


.embossed .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -7px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -9px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -7px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -9px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3);
	box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.8), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -7px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -9px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3);

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

Soft Embossed Style (see demo)

This is pretty much the same as the embossed style, but I just applied 1px blur to it.

soft embossed

CSS


.soft-embossed .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 0 4px rgba(0,0,0,1), inset 0 2px 1px rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -9px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -12px 2px rgba(255,255,255,.3);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 0 4px rgba(0,0,0,1), inset 0 2px 1px rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -9px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -12px 2px rgba(255,255,255,.3);
	box-shadow: inset 0 0 4px rgba(0,0,0,1), inset 0 2px 1px rgba(255,255,255,.5), inset 0 -9px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 -12px 2px rgba(255,255,255,.3);

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

Cutout Style (see demo)

Again with just inset box-shadow, I can make it to look like a cutout effect.

cutout effect

CSS


.cut-out .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.2), inset 0 4px 5px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6);
	-moz-box-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.2), inset 0 4px 5px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6);
	box-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.2), inset 0 4px 5px rgba(0,0,0,.6), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.6);

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

Morphing & Glowing (see demo)

In this example, I added transition to the image wrap element. On mouse over, it will morph from rounded corners to circle and add a glowing effect. The glowing effect is done with multiple box-shadow values.

morphing glowing

CSS


.morphing-glowing .image-wrap {
	-webkit-transition: 1s;
	-moz-transition: 1s;
	transition: 1s;

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

.morphing-glowing .image-wrap:hover {
	-webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,.6), inset 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,1);
	-moz-box-shadow: 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,.6), inset 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,1);
	box-shadow: 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,.6), inset 0 0 20px rgba(255,255,255,1);

	-webkit-border-radius: 60em;
	-moz-border-radius: 60em;
	border-radius: 60em;
}

Glossy Overlay (see demo)

The glossy gradient overlay is added with the :after pseudo element in the example below.

glossy overlay

CSS


.glossy .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5);
	box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5);

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

.glossy .image-wrap:after {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 50%;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;

	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, rgba(255,255,255,0.7) 0%, rgba(255,255,255,.1) 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,rgba(255,255,255,0.7)), color-stop(100%,rgba(255,255,255,.1)));
	background: linear-gradient(top, rgba(255,255,255,0.7) 0%,rgba(255,255,255,.1) 100%);
}

Reflection (see demo)

In this example, I shifted the overlay gradient to the bottom to create a reflection.

reflection

CSS


.reflection .image-wrap:after {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 30px;
	bottom: -31px;
	left: 0;

	-webkit-border-top-left-radius: 20px;
	-webkit-border-top-right-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius-topleft: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius-topright: 20px;
	border-top-left-radius: 20px;
	border-top-right-radius: 20px;

	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, rgba(0,0,0,.3) 0%, rgba(255,255,255,0) 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,rgba(0,0,0,.3)), color-stop(100%,rgba(255,255,255,0)));
	background: linear-gradient(top, rgba(0,0,0,.3) 0%,rgba(255,255,255,0) 100%);
}

.reflection .image-wrap:hover {
	position: relative;
	top: -8px;
}

Glossy & Reflection (see demo)

In this example, I combined the :before and :after element to create a glossy image style with reflection.

glossy + reflection

CSS


.glossy-reflection .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.6);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.6);
	box-shadow: inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), inset 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.6);

	-webkit-transition: 1s;
	-moz-transition: 1s;
	transition: 1s;

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

.glossy-reflection .image-wrap:before {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 50%;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;

	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, rgba(255,255,255,0.7) 0%, rgba(255,255,255,.1) 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,rgba(255,255,255,0.7)), color-stop(100%,rgba(255,255,255,.1)));
	background: linear-gradient(top, rgba(255,255,255,0.7) 0%,rgba(255,255,255,.1) 100%);
}

.glossy-reflection .image-wrap:after {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 30px;
	bottom: -31px;
	left: 0;

	-webkit-border-top-left-radius: 20px;
	-webkit-border-top-right-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius-topleft: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius-topright: 20px;
	border-top-left-radius: 20px;
	border-top-right-radius: 20px;

	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, rgba(230,230,230,.3) 0%, rgba(230,230,230,0) 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,rgba(230,230,230,.3)), color-stop(100%,rgba(230,230,230,0)));
	background: linear-gradient(top, rgba(230,230,230,.3) 0%,rgba(230,230,230,0) 100%);
}

Tape Style (see demo)

The :after is used here to create a tape like gradient on top of the image.

tape style

CSS


.tape .image-wrap {
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.7), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,.4);
	-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.7), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,.4);
	box-shadow: inset 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.7), inset 0 2px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3), inset 0 -1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.5), 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,.4);
}

.tape .image-wrap:after {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 60px;
	height: 25px;
	top: -10px;
	left: 50%;
	margin-left: -30px;
	border: solid 1px rgba(137,130,48,.2);

	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, rgba(254,243,127,.6) 0%, rgba(240,224,54,.6) 100%);
	background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,rgba(254,243,127,.6)), color-stop(100%,rgba(240,224,54,.6)));
	background: linear-gradient(top, rgba(254,243,127,.6) 0%,rgba(240,224,54,.6) 100%);
	-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.3), 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.2);
}

Morphing & Tinting (see demo)

In the example below, I use the :after element to add a radial gradient on mouse over.

morphing + tinting

CSS


.morphing-tinting .image-wrap {
	position: relative;

	-webkit-transition: 1s;
	-moz-transition: 1s;
	transition: 1s;

	-webkit-border-radius: 20px;
	-moz-border-radius: 20px;
	border-radius: 20px;
}

.morphing-tinting .image-wrap:hover {
	-webkit-border-radius: 30em;
	-moz-border-radius: 30em;
	border-radius: 30em;
}

.morphing-tinting .image-wrap:after {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;

	-webkit-transition: 1s;
	-moz-transition: 1s;
	transition: 1s;

	-webkit-border-radius: 30em;
	-moz-border-radius: 30em;
	border-radius: 30em;
}
.morphing-tinting .image-wrap:hover:after  {
	background: -webkit-gradient(radial, 50% 50%, 40, 50% 50%, 80, from(rgba(0,0,0,0)), to(rgba(0,0,0,1)));
	background: -moz-radial-gradient(50% 50%, circle, rgba(0,0,0,0) 40px, rgba(0,0,0,1) 80px);
}

Feather Edge Circle (see demo)

The radial gradient can also be used as a mask to create a circle feather effect as seen in the example below.

feather circle

CSS


.feather .image-wrap {
	position: relative;

	-webkit-border-radius: 30em;
	-moz-border-radius: 30em;
	border-radius: 30em;
}

.feather .image-wrap:after  {
	position: absolute;
	content: ' ';
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;

	background: -webkit-gradient(radial, 50% 50%, 50, 50% 50%, 70, from(rgba(255,255,255,0)), to(rgba(255,255,255,1)));
	background: -moz-radial-gradient(50% 50%, circle, rgba(255,255,255,0) 50px, rgba(255,255,255,1) 70px);
}

Browser Capability

This trick pretty much work on any browser (eg. Chrome, Firefox and Safari) that supports border-radius, box-shadow, :before and :after. The unsupported browsers will fall back to the image without any styles.

Use Your Creativity

As you can see, you can pretty much create any image style with combination of :before and :after pseudo element. If you come up with more creative image styles, please share it in the comments.

Update: CSS3 Image Styles - Part 2

Also read CSS Image Images - Part 2.