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Background image with gradient overlay in CSS

paramharrison profile image Paramanantham Harrison Originally published at learnwithparam.com ・Updated on ・2 min read

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Background images with overlay are very common UI feature. It will be seen more on Hero, Cards components.

There are several ways to achieve it. Most preferred way is to make use of CSS pseudo elements to assign a background color with proper opacity. This method doesn't need extra HTML elements and it works in all modern browsers.

Background image with Overlay

.bg-img-overlay {
  width: 600px;
  height: 600px;
  position: relative;
  // Image as background
  background: url('https://unsplash.it/600x600') center center no-repeat;
  background-size: cover;

  &:before {
    // Pseudo element will only render if it has a content property
    content: '';
    // Overlay should occupy the full width and height of parent image container
    position: absolute;
    top: 0;
    right: 0;
    bottom: 0;
    left: 0;
    // Overlay background-color
    background-color: #000000;
    // Overlay opacity, else overlay won't be transparent and show the image
    opacity: 0.6;
  }
}

Credits to unsplash and their contributors for generously providing images

Background image with gradient Overlay

Its same as above. Only change will be, background-color of the overlay need to be replaced with background-image with linear gradient.

.bg-img-overlay {
  background: ...;
  &:before {
    ...
    // Overlay background-color
    background-color: linear-gradient(to bottom right, #002f4b, #dc4225);
    ...
  }
}

Note: I have used vw and vh for width and height to make it look beautiful in codepen. You can change the image width and height property and see the example working for different sizes.

Its very simple and useful technique in creating many UI components 😎

Note: This article was originally written for my blog. I am republishing it here for the amazing DEV community.

Discussion (5)

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horus_sky profile image
Cedric W

Nice "nugget". I think you can optimize the code a bit by using Multiple backgrounds. Use the top (first) background as a linear-gradient using RGBa or HSLa, then using the bottom (second) background as the image. It should work the same as using a pseudo-element but with less code.

Example below:

.bg-img {
  width: 100vw;
  height: 100vh;
  background:linear-gradient(
      rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.6), rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.6)), url('https://unsplash.it/600x600') center center no-repeat;
  background-size: cover;
}

I made a codepen example with a one color overlay, and a multi-color overlay, both using linear-gradients.

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paramharrison profile image
Paramanantham Harrison Author

That’s awesome. Thanks for the example, I will take note of it.

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ggenya132 profile image
Eugene Vedensky

This is great!

I like to generalize this behavior in SCSS by extracting my overlays into parameterized mixins. SCSS is the best thing that has happened to me in forever.

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paramharrison profile image
Paramanantham Harrison Author

True, SCSS is amazing.
Checkout styled-components and CSS-in-JS too if you are more into front end application development. Its making wave after preprocessors.

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ggenya132 profile image
Eugene Vedensky

You know, I've tried, but I find it be a strange form of tight-coupling that I don't quite enjoy. At the same time, I think including styles with a component makes logical sense but something about bundling styles with the component, so conflicted.

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