Happy toast

Perfectly Framed, Responsive Images

  1. css
  2. responsive

Look at this cat. This image of my cat is the crux of this entire post. Now resize your browser and watch what happens (spoiler alert: the image resizes intelligently).


If you’d rather see an animated demo, then check out this CodePen.

The Goal

When I revamped this blog, I had some very specific criteria in mind for how I wanted to present images, much of it with regard to responsive design. Slapping width: 100% on my images wasn’t good enough.

  • Images must be centered and nicely framed with a border and shadow.
  • Space permitting, images must display at their original size, without stretching.
  • Images can never exceed the width of the space they’re in. No overflow or cutoff.
  • If an image were to exceed the width of its container, it must scale down to fit.
  • All of this must work whether or not the image is wrapped in a link tag.
  • No JavaScript. window.onresize? Gross.

The Solution

Fortunately, I was able to achieve all of this with a single wrapper div and a modest amount of CSS. You already saw the solution in action when you resized your browser.

Here’s what the HTML looks like:

<!-- image only -->
<div class="blog-insert">
<img src="http://codersblock.com/desmond.jpg" alt="Desmond">

<!-- image with link -->
<div class="blog-insert">
<a href="http://codersblock.com">
<img src="http://codersblock.com/desmond.jpg" alt="Desmond">

And here’s the CSS:

.blog-insert {
max-width: 100%;
text-align: center;
font-size: 0;
.blog-insert > * {
display: inline-block;
border: solid 4px #fff;
box-shadow: 0 0 10px #666;
.blog-insert img {
max-width: 100%;
-moz-box-sizing: border-box;
box-sizing: border-box;
.blog-insert a img {
width: 100%;

I won’t bore you with a CSS line-by-line, but the basic idea is to use width and max-width in just the right combination, while box-sizing: border-box prevents the added border pixels from throwing off the widths. Centering is done with text-align: center and display: inline-block.

Thank you!