Full Sized Backgrounds

April 13, 2012 • by wes

I was recently tasked to implement a site where the home page had  a series of rotating full-screen backgrounds. The quintessential example that immediately sprang to mind was the GoToChina site, while Chris Coyer has a series of techniques he’s rounded up, too. However, these utilize only a single image.

Here’s the markup I used:

<div id="bg">
	<article id="slide-1" style="background-image: url('space1.jpg');">
		<!-- other fun content here -->

	<article id="slide-2" style="background-image: url('space2.jpg');">
		<!-- other fun content here -->

	<!-- etc... -->

Here, the background images are assigned with an inlined style. I’m only doing this because each image is dynamically pulled from a database and assigned at page load. You could also assign it in the css using the article’s id if you wished.

With CSS3, getting the background-image of the <article> element to center and scale is straightforward. The image even keeps it’s aspect ratio:

#bg {

#bg article {
	background: no-repeat center center fixed;
	-webkit-background-size: cover;
	-moz-background-size: cover;
	-o-background-size: cover;
	background-size: cover;

Neat. What this does, then is makes sure that the image always covers the background, while keeping it centered. The magic that allows this to happen is within: background-size: cover;

The slides are now all sitting on top of each other, and they may be rotated through using fades or side-scrolls, or any other techniques you wish via a little javascript.

Sadly, and not-altogether-unexpectedly, this doesn’t work in IE prior to version 9. There is a nice workaround using a bit of jQuery:

if ( $.browser.msie ) {
  $('#bg article').each(function() {
    var pattern = /url\(|\)|"|'/g;
    var src = $(this).css('background-image').replace(pattern,"");
    var id = $(this).attr('id');
    $('head').append("<style>#slide"+ id +"{progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(src='"+src+"', sizingMethod='scale'); -ms-filter: 'progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(src=' "+ src +"', sizingMethod='scale')';}</style>");

This will rip the image src’s out of the background-attribute, and use them in an IE-only filter The nice thing about this approach is it’s simplicity. No extraneous markup or extras, and it performs well.