Learning CSS Animations by Example


Jonathan Wong / November 04, 2017

3 min read––– views

CSS Animations

I'm constantly inspired by innovative website designs. In my opinion, no one does a better job than Stripe. After reading their article about how they redesigned Connect, I was determined to learn more about creating animations using only CSS.

I've found I learn best by doing - creating tangible examples where I have to apply the skills I've studied. My mission was to learn more about CSS animations. To achieve that goal, I came up with a fun idea to make an Iowa State logo animated to swirl like a tornado.

The Cyclone's logo in the late 80's to early 90's represented a tornado. Here's the base I started with.

Iowa State Cyclones Logo

I took this .png into Adobe Illustrator to create an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic). SVGs look crisp at all screen resolutions, have super small file sizes, and can be easily edited and modified. I traced the path of the tornado as seen below and created the .svg file.

Adobe Illustrator SVG Creation

Learning About Animations#

CSS3 animations allow you to gradually change from one style to another. To define how those styles change at certain times, we use a @keyframes rule. In the example below, I've created a keyframes rule entitled "color" to change the fill selector to different colors based on the percentage complete. This will change the logo from cardinal → gold → cardinal.

@keyframes color {
  0% {
    fill: #99002f;
  50% {
    fill: #ffc426;
  100% {
    fill: #99002f;

We need to specify which element we want to bind this animation to. Using the animation property, we can apply the color rule and configure how it runs. Animations have six different properties:

  • animation-name
  • animation-duration
  • animation-timing-function
  • animation-delay
  • animation-iteration-count
  • animation-direction
  • animation-fill-mode

For more information on the specifics of each property, check out the full documentation. Here's how we would apply these properties to make our logo change colors.

svg path {
  animation-name: color;
  animation-duration: 2s;
  animation-iteration-count: infinite;
  animation-timing-function: cubic-bezier(0.85, 0.01, 0.25, 1);

You can also use the short-hand version.

svg path {
  animation: color 2s infinite cubic-bezier(0.85, 0.01, 0.25, 1);

This applies the "color" @keyframes rule to the SVG's path which will repeat forever in 2-second increments using the cubic-bezier timing function. We can apply this same idea to make the logo spin. First, let's create another @keyframes rule for spinning.

@keyframes spin {
  0% {
    transform: rotateX(-20deg) rotateY(20deg);
  100% {
    transform: rotateX(-20deg) rotateY(740deg);

Finally, let's apply this rule to our container element.

.container {
  animation: spin 2s infinite cubic-bezier(0.85, 0.01, 0.25, 1);

Final Result 🎉#

Iowa State Animated Logo

You can view the code and a live example on CodePen.

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