CSS blend modes, clipping paths and filters make a number of effects that were previously available only in PhotoShop possible on the web.

One possibility that combines these CSS properties is overlaying images, for before-and-after comparisons or to achieve other visual effects. An example might be the placement of Hugh Jackman’s face over a contemporary photo of Clint Eastwood; particularly effective since both of them possess such similar bone structure and facial features.

For the first example, the markup looks something like this:

<figure id="eastwood-jackman-blend">
	<img src="eastwood.jpg" alt="Black and white photograph of Clint Eastwood">
	<img src="jackman.jpg" alt="Color photograph of Hugh Jackman">

This effectively “sandwiches” a capital X between the two photos. Then, applying the following CSS (in this case, written as ):

.eastwood-jackman {
	width: 40%
	padding-top: 50%;
	margin: 0;
	img, figcaption { 
		position: absolute;
		top: 0;
	img:last-child {
		mix-blend-mode: multiply;
	figcaption {
		font-family: Futura-CondensedExtraBold;
		font-weight: 400;
		font-size: 45vw
		color: hsla(55,100%,50%,0.8);
		line-height: .77;
		margin-left: 50px; 

By placing mix-blend-mode: multiply on the last image, it blends with the yellow “X” and photograph beneath it. As the “X” is a true letter, it is extremely adaptable (and because it uses vw units, responsive); the only problem is that it’s appearance is entirely dependent on the user having that font already installed or embedded. This can never be completely guaranteed, so a better approach might be to clip the upper image. Using much the same markup, for the second example:

<figure id="eastwood-jackman-clip">
	<img src="eastwood.jpg" alt>
	<img src="jackman.jpg" alt>

The opening CSS remains the same, so I’ll just concentrate on the last image in the markup, sans vendor prefixes:

img:last-child { 
	clip-path: url(#y-shape);
	clip-path: polygon(16% 0, 40% 57%, 40% 100%, 72% 100%, 72% 57%, 100% 0, 72% 0%, 57% 28%, 48% 0);
	filter: hue-rotate(120deg);

I’ve covered the SVG equivalent markup necessary for Firefox to clip the image in an earlier article:

<svg id="shapeclipper">
		<clipPath id="y-shape" clipPathUnits="objectBoundingBox">
			<polygon points=".16 0, .40 .57, .40 1, .72 1, .72 .57, 1 0, .72 0, .57 .28, .48 0" />

The result can be quite effective… and entirely written in CSS.

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