Pseudo-Randomly Including Illustrations with CSS – Eric’s Archived Ideas


I’ve been extremely gratified and a bit humbled by the responses to the new design.  So initially, thanks to everybody who shared their reactions!  I actually recognize your kindness, and I’d wish to repay that kindness a bit by sharing a number of the strategies I used to create this design.  As we speak, let’s speak concerning the ink-study illustrations positioned between entries on the location, in addition to one different place I’ll get to later.

Very early within the course of, I knew I needed to separate entries with decorations of some type, as a method of breaking apart the stream of textual content.  Luckily, Hamonshū supplied ample materials.  Just a little work in Acorn and I had 5 candidate illustrations able to go.

The 5 illustrations.

The factor was, I needed to make use of all 5 of them, and I needed them to be picked on a random-ish foundation.  I might have written PHP or JS or some such to inject a random decide, however that felt somewhat too fiddly.  Luckily, I discovered a method to make use of plain previous CSS to get the outcome I needed, even when it isn’t really random.  In actual fact, its predictability turned an asset to me as a designer, whereas nonetheless imparting the impact I needed for readers.

(Please observe that on this article, I’ve simplified some facets of my precise CSS for readability’s sake; e.g., eradicating the listing path from url() values and simply exhibiting the filenames, or eradicating declarations circuitously related to the dialogue right here.  I point out this so that you simply’re ready for the variations within the CSS proven on this piece versus in your internet inspector and/or the uncooked stylesheet.)

Right here’s the way it begins out:

#ideas .entry + .entry::earlier than {
   content material: "";
   show: block;
   peak: 10em;
   background:
      url(separator-big-05.png) 50% 100% / include no-repeat;
}

Meaning, for each weblog entry besides the primary, a block-level little bit of generated content material is inserted at the start of the entry, given a peak, and the picture separator-big-05.png is dropped into the generated field and sized to be contained inside it, which implies no a part of the picture will spill exterior the background space and thus be clipped off.  (The file has the quantity 05 as a result of it was the fifth I produced.  It ended up being my favourite, so I made it the default.)

With that in place, all that is still is to modify up the background picture that’s used for varied entries.  I do it like this:

#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(2n+1)::earlier than {
   background-image: url(separator-big-02.png);
}
#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(3n+1)::earlier than {
   background-image: url(separator-big-03.png);
}
#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(4n+1)::earlier than {
   background-image: url(separator-big-04.png);
}
#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(5n+1)::earlier than {
   background-image: url(separator-big-01.png);
}

So each second-plus-one entry (the third, fifth, seventh, and so on.) that isn’t the primary entry will use separator-big-02.png as an alternative of -05.png.  Except the entry is an every-third-plus-one (fourth, seventh, tenth, and so on.), during which case separator-big-03.png is used as an alternative.  And so forth, up by way of every-fifth-plus-one.  And as you may see, the primary picture I produced (separator-big-01.png) is used the least typically, so you may most likely guess the place it stands in my regard.

This method does produce a predictable sample, however one which’s unlikely to appear too repetitious, as a result of it’s used so as to add ornament separated by a good quantity of textual content content material, plus there are sufficient options to maintain the combination feeling contemporary.  It additionally means, given how the method works, that the primary separator picture on the house web page (and on archive pages) is all the time my favourite.  That’s the place the predictability of the strategy helped me as a designer.

I take advantage of an identical strategy for the separator between posts’ textual content and their feedback, besides in that case, I add a generated field to the top of the final little one ingredient in a given entry:

.single #ideas article .textual content > *:last-child:after {
   content material: "";
   show: block;
   peak: 10em;
   background:
      url(separator-big-05.png) 50% 100% / include no-repeat;
}

That’s, on any web page classed single (which is all particular person put up pages) after the final little one ingredient of a .textual content ingredient (which holds the textual content of a put up), the ornament field is generated.  The default, once more, is separator-big-05.png—however right here, I range the picture primarily based on the variety of components within the put up’s physique:

.single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(2n+1)::after {
   background-image: url(separator-big-02.png);
}
.single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(3n+1)::after {
   background-image: url(separator-big-03.png);
}
.single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(4n+1)::after {
   background-image: url(separator-big-04.png);
}
.single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(5n+1)::after {
   background-image: url(separator-big-01.png);
}

In different phrases: if the final little one ingredient of the put up textual content is a second-plus-one, separator-big-02.png is used.  If there are 3n+1 (one, 4, seven, ten, 13, …) HTML components within the put up, separator-big-03.png is used.  And so forth.  That is an successfully random selection from among the many 5 photos, since I don’t depend the weather in my posts as I write them.  And it additionally implies that if I edit a bit sufficient to alter the variety of components, the illustration will change!  (To be clear, I regard this as a function.  It lends a slight patina of impermanence that matches nicely with the general theme.)

I ought to observe that within the precise CSS, the 2 units of guidelines above are merged into one, so the selectors are literally like so:

#ideas .entry + .entry::earlier than,
   .single #ideas article .textual content > *:last-child:after {…}

#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(2n+1)::earlier than,
   .single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(2n+1)::after {…}

#ideas .entry:nth-of-type(3n+1)::earlier than,
   .single #ideas article .textual content > *:nth-child(3n+1)::after {…}

In all honesty, this method actually satisfies me.  It makes use of doc construction whereas having a random really feel, and is definitely up to date by merely changing information or altering URLs.  It’s additionally easy so as to add extra guidelines to convey much more photos to the combination, if I need.

And since we’re speaking about utilizing construction to range format, I even have this @media block, quoted right here verbatim and in full:

@media (min-width: 50em) {
   #ideas .entry:nth-of-type(2n) {
      rework: translate(-1vw,0);
   }
   #ideas .entry:nth-of-type(3n) {
      rework: translate(3vw,0);
   }
}

This implies on the house web page and weblog archive pages, however solely at desktop-browser widths, some entries are shifted a bit to the left or proper by fractions of the viewport width, which subtly breaks up the strict linearity of the content material column on lengthy pages, maintaining it from feeling too grid-like.

To be trustworthy, I don’t know if that side-shifting impact really impacts guests’ expertise of utilizing meyerweb, however I prefer it.  Generally the inter-entry wave artwork matches along with the side-shift in order that it appears to be like just like the artwork flows into the content material.  That sort of serendipity all the time delights me, whether or not it comes by my hand or another person’s.  With luck, it is going to have delighted one or two of you as nicely.



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