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Admin 04-04-2007 11:25 AM

CSS- Controlling background images & colors
Learn how to use CSS properties to add background images and colour to your Web pages. Lots of neat tricks and examples are included!
This tutorial shows you how to work with the various CSS background properties. Using CSS, you can specify things like:
  • The background colour to use for a Web page, table, paragraph, etc
  • The background image for a Web page, table, paragraph, etc
  • Whether the background image scrolls with the page, or is fixed on the screen
  • Whether the background image repeats
  • The position of the background image
Adding a nice coloured or graphical background to your Web pages is a quick and easy way to spice up your site. However, it's also very easy to make Web pages look horrible, or even unreadable with the wrong type of background! The section at the end of the tutorial will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with backgrounds.
Specifying background colours

The background-color property lets you set the background colour for an HTML element. For example:
p { background-color: yellow; }This is a paragraph with a yellow background colour.
Setting a background image

You can use the background-image property to specify a background image for an HTML element. For example, to set a background image for a Web page, you could use something like this:
<html><head><style> body { background-image: url("teepees.jpg") }</style></head><body><h1>Here is my Web Page with a background image!</h1></body></html>
Note that you can also use the background-image property (and indeed any of the background properties) on divs, tables, table cells, paragraphs, etc.
Creating a "watermark" background image

By default, a page background image will scroll with the page. However, using the background-attachment: fixed property, it's possible to create a "watermark" background that stays fixed in the same place on the screen while the page scrolls:
body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-attachment: fixed}
Specifying how the background image tiles

You can see that the background image repeats itself many times, in order to fill the whole page. You can control this tiling effect using the background-repeat property, as follows:
background-repeat: repeat Tiles the image both horizontally and vertically. This is the default setting. background-repeat: repeat-x Tiles the image in the horizontal direction only. Good if you want the background running across the top of the page. background-repeat: repeat-y Tiles the image in the vertical direction only. Great for left-hand page borders! background-repeat: no-repeat No repeating takes place; only one copy of the image is displayed. This is good if you want to use a big image that isn't designed to tile. Examples:

body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: repeat-x;}
body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: repeat-y;}
body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: no-repeat;}Just displays the image once.
Positioning the background image

CSS gives you control over exactly where your background image is placed within the HTML element. To position your image, use the background-position property as follows:
background-position: x% y% Places the image x% across the page and y% down the page. Values of "0 0" indicate the top left hand corner. background-position: x y Places the image x units across the page and y units down the page. For example, "50px 25px" places the image 50 pixels to the right of the top left corner, and 25 pixels below it. You can use any CSS units to specify the position. background-position: position Positions the image using one of various positioning words. These are: top left, top center, top right, center left, center center, center right, bottom left, bottom center and bottom right. Note that when using vertical percentage positions, or the vertical center or bottom positions, you also need the following in your CSS, to tell the browser to make the outer HTML element the height of the browser window:
html{ height: 100%;}Examples:

html{ height: 100%;}body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 50% 50%}Displays the image in the centre of the page.
body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 100px 50px}Displays the image 100 pixels to the right of, and 50 pixels below, the top left corner of the page.
html{ height: 100%;}body{ background-image: url("teepees.jpg"); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: center right}Displays the image in the centre right of the page.
Backgrounds - not just for pages!

Don't forget that you can use these background properties on most HTML elements - not just the body element. For example, here is our teepees image being used as a table background:
<table style="background-image: url(teepees.jpg); border: 1px solid gray;"><tr><td><h1>Here are some teepees in a table!</h1></td></tr></table>And this is how it renders:
Here are some teepees in a table!

Combining properties

You can use the background property to specify all the background properties easily in one go. For example:
html{ height: 100%;}body{ background: url("teepees.jpg") no-repeat center center black}This sets the page background to black, with the teepees image in the centre of the page, non-repeating.
Some notes on style and readability

Images that weren't meant to tile

Unless you're using the background-repeat: no-repeat property, it is important that the image you're using is designed to tile.
Backgrounds that clash with text

Some background images or colours may look very pretty, but if they make your page text hard to read, they're probably best avoided. If you want to use a page background image, choose one that is not too "busy", and that contrasts well with the text colour.

Your turn!

If you'd like to practice putting background images in your pages and page elements, try downloading some backgrounds. Save the image to a folder on your hard drive somewhere, then link to it from your style sheet.

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