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Modern CSS3 techniques to embellish your website

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The CSS3 specification allows front-end developers to create sophisticated visual effects to make websites look better. I have compiled over 10 new CSS3 techniques to embellish your website and give it a more professional look and feel.

Black and white images using CSS3

The following CSS class will display any color image in black and white. The vendor prefix allows the trick to work on any browser.

img.desaturate { 
    filter: grayscale(100%);
    -webkit-filter: grayscale(100%);
    -moz-filter: grayscale(100%);
    -ms-filter: grayscale(100%);
    -o-filter: grayscale(100%);

Source/Demo: http://demosthenes.info/blog/532/Convert-Images-To-Black–White-With-CSS

Page top shadow in CSS3

Here is a simple snippet to give your website a nice page top shadow. Easy to apply and visually pleasant!

body:before {
          content: "";
          position: fixed;
          top: -10px;
          left: 0;
          width: 100%;
          height: 10px;

          -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px rgba(0,0,0,.8);
          -moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px rgba(0,0,0,.8);
          box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px rgba(0,0,0,.8);

          z-index: 100;

Source/Demo: http://playground.genelocklin.com/depth/

Detecting double-clicks in CSS3

Believe it or not, it’s possible to detect when an element has been double-clicked by using just CSS, as demonstrated in the following code:

<div class="test3">
  <span><input type="text" value=" " readonly="true" />
  <a href="http://google.com">Double click me</a></span>

<style type="text/css">
.test3 span {
	position: relative;
.test3 span a { 
	position: relative;
	z-index: 2; 
.test3 span a:hover, .test3 span a:active { 
	z-index: 4; 
.test3 span input { 
	background: transparent; 
	border: 0; 
	cursor: pointer; 
	position: absolute; 
	top: -1px; 
	left: 0; 
	width: 101%;  /* Hacky */
	height: 301%; /* Hacky */
	z-index: 3; 
.test3 span input:focus { 
	background: transparent; 
	border: 0; 
	z-index: 1; 

Source/Demo: http://css-tricks.com/examples/CSSDoubleClick/

Triangles in CSS3

Yes, it’s actually possible to draw triangles using only CSS. Although it’s probably not the best way of doing it, I still find this technique pretty useful and interesting.

/* create an arrow that points up */
div.arrow-up {
  border-left:5px solid transparent;  /* left arrow slant */
  border-right:5px solid transparent; /* right arrow slant */
  border-bottom:5px solid #2f2f2f; /* bottom, add background color here */

/* create an arrow that points down */
div.arrow-down {
  border-left:5px solid transparent;
  border-right:5px solid transparent;
  border-top:5px solid #2f2f2f;

/* create an arrow that points left */
div.arrow-left {
  border-bottom:5px solid transparent;  /* left arrow slant */
  border-top:5px solid transparent; /* right arrow slant */
  border-right:5px solid #2f2f2f; /* bottom, add background color here */

/* create an arrow that points right */
div.arrow-right {
  border-bottom:5px solid transparent;  /* left arrow slant */
  border-top:5px solid transparent; /* right arrow slant */
  border-left:5px solid #2f2f2f; /* bottom, add background color here */

Source/Demo: http://davidwalsh.name/css-triangles

Using CSS calc()

calc() works like a function and allow you to perform calculations to determine the size and shape of objects. It can be used anywhere a length is required.

/* basic calc */
.simpleBlock {
  width: calc(100% - 100px);

/* calc in calc */
.complexBlock {
  width: calc(100% - 50% / 3);
  padding: 5px calc(3% - 2px);
  margin-left: calc(10% + 10px);

Source/Demo: http://davidwalsh.name/css-calc

Pure CSS text gradients

Text gradients have always been popular on the internet. Now with CSS3, it’s a lot easier to create beautiful gradients in a matter of minutes.

h2[data-text] {
	position: relative;
h2[data-text]::after {
	content: attr(data-text);
	z-index: 10;
	color: #e3e3e3;
	position: absolute;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;
	-webkit-mask-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, from(rgba(0,0,0,0)), color-stop(50%, rgba(0,0,0,1)), to(rgba(0,0,0,0)));

Source: http://snipplr.com/view/49911/pure-css-text-gradients/

Disabling pointer events with CSS

The newly introduced pointer-events property allow you to deactivate pointer events on an element. For example, a link with the following class will not be clickable anymore.

.disabled { pointer-events: none; }

Source/Demo: http://davidwalsh.name/pointer-events

Stiched elements in CSS3

The following code snippet shows how to create a nice stitched look around any element. Nice!

p {
	padding: 5px 10px;
	margin: 10px;
	background: #ff0030;
	color: #fff;
	font-size: 21px;
	line-height: 1.3em;
	border: 2px dashed #fff;
	border-radius: 3px;
	-moz-border-radius: 3px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 3px;
	-moz-box-shadow: 0 0 0 4px #ff0030, 2px 1px 4px 4px rgba(10,10,0,.5);
	-webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 0 4px #ff0030, 2px 1px 4px 4px rgba(10,10,0,.5);
	box-shadow: 0 0 0 4px #ff0030, 2px 1px 6px 4px rgba(10,10,0,.5);
	text-shadow: -1px -1px #aa3030;

Source: http://www.catswhocode.com/blog/snippets/stitched-elements-in-css3

Custom scrollbars with CSS3 and WebKit

Remember 10 years ago where almost anyone used Microsoft exclusive properties to customize the look of scrollbars? Well, now you can do the same with Webkit.

::-webkit-scrollbar {
  width: 12px;

::-webkit-scrollbar-track {
  background: none;

::-webkit-scrollbar-thumb {
  background: -webkit-linear-gradient(left, #547c90, #002640);
  border: 1px solid #333;
  box-shadow: inset 1px 0 0 rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.4);

Source/Demo: http://davidwalsh.name/custom-scrollbars

Blurry text with CSS3

A simple but very nice text blur effect. Easy and good-looking!

.blur {
   color: transparent;
   text-shadow: 0 0 5px rgba(0,0,0,0.5);

Source/Demo: http://css-tricks.com/snippets/css/blurry-text/

Pure CSS corner ribbon

This code is a bit long, but it creates a fancy corner ribbon in pure CSS.

<div class="wrapper">
       <div class="ribbon-wrapper-green"><div class="ribbon-green">NEWS</div></div>

And the CSS:

.wrapper {
  margin: 50px auto;
  width: 280px;
  height: 370px;
  background: white;
  border-radius: 10px;
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 8px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
  -moz-box-shadow:    0px 0px 8px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
  box-shadow:         0px 0px 8px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
  position: relative;
  z-index: 90;

.ribbon-wrapper-green {
  width: 85px;
  height: 88px;
  overflow: hidden;
  position: absolute;
  top: -3px;
  right: -3px;

.ribbon-green {
  font: bold 15px Sans-Serif;
  color: #333;
  text-align: center;
  text-shadow: rgba(255,255,255,0.5) 0px 1px 0px;
  -webkit-transform: rotate(45deg);
  -moz-transform:    rotate(45deg);
  -ms-transform:     rotate(45deg);
  -o-transform:      rotate(45deg);
  position: relative;
  padding: 7px 0;
  left: -5px;
  top: 15px;
  width: 120px;
  background-color: #BFDC7A;
  background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, from(#BFDC7A), to(#8EBF45)); 
  background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #BFDC7A, #8EBF45); 
  background-image:    -moz-linear-gradient(top, #BFDC7A, #8EBF45); 
  background-image:     -ms-linear-gradient(top, #BFDC7A, #8EBF45); 
  background-image:      -o-linear-gradient(top, #BFDC7A, #8EBF45); 
  color: #6a6340;
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
  -moz-box-shadow:    0px 0px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
  box-shadow:         0px 0px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);

.ribbon-green:before, .ribbon-green:after {
  content: "";
  border-top:   3px solid #6e8900;   
  border-left:  3px solid transparent;
  border-right: 3px solid transparent;
  bottom: -3px;

.ribbon-green:before {
  left: 0;
.ribbon-green:after {
  right: 0;

Source/Demo: http://jsfiddle.net/chriscoyier/H6rQ6/1/

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Published at DZone with permission of Jean-Baptiste Jung, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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