Get Started with CSS

Getting started with CSS shapes wrapping the content around custom paths

Web designers have forever been forced to work within the confines and restricted limits of rectangular shapes. Almost all web content available globally is still entrapped within boxes as multiple creative and radical efforts at building non rectangular web layouts usually bite the dust. However, CSS Shapes promises to overhaul the entire ecosystem altogether to good effect. How will it help? CSS Shapes will definitely enable designers to wrap their desired content right around customized paths like ellipses, circles and even polygons. This is an epoch making feature, one that promises to end the dominance of the rectangle and may well herald huge growth in the entire web design and development sector at large.

Web designers have often been plagued by persistent and problematic rectangular wrap shapes remaining around images with transparent parts where one expects to fill and wrap content. This problem and multiple others can be easily solved with the help of CSS Shapes. The shape-outside: url (image.png) declaration in CSS informs browsers with regard to extraction of particular shapes from an image. The threshold property called shape-image is used to define minimum levels of opacity of pixels for shape creation. The value of the same must be within a range of 0.0 for fully transparent and 1.0 for fully opaque shapes. As a result, shape-image thresholds hovering at 0.5 translate into shape creation through pixels with 50% opacity and above.

Web designers should also notice the crucial float property in this case. The property named shape-outside is used to define the area shape for content wrapping around the same. However, the shape effects will remain invisible without the float. Most elements possess float areas right on the opposite spectrum of their float values. For instance, float areas are created to the right when an element with an image has been floated to the left side. Gap engineering is possible for both sides but content wrapping will only be possible for the shape present on the opposite side as designated and identified by the float property in question. This is something that you have to remember at all times.

Manual creation of shapes is also possible with proper coding. There are several functional values from which you can create polygons, circles and ellipses. Each shape based function will accept coordinate sets and is best combined with a reference box for establishment of the coordinate based system. The circle shape value notation stands at circle (r at cx cy) where cy and cx denote circle center coordinates for Y and X axes while r represents the radius. These axis coordinates are optional and omission results in usage of the element center. CSS Masking provides you multiple properties including mask-image and clip-path which helps you reuse values as per your requirements.

Another boon for web designers is that CSS unit types can be made use of in coordinates related to shape functions. These include vh, px, rem, vw and em among others. You should choose carefully based on your specific needs.

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