Responsive images and art direction

Responsive images and art direction

Updated

Responsive images are often implemented using the srcset attribute. The srcset attribute is a comma-separated list of image filenames and their width or density descriptors. To prevent layout shifts, set the width and height attributes on <img> and <source> tags that use srcset.

For responsive images that use density descriptors:

  • All images listed in src and srcset should have the same aspect ratio.
  • Set the width and height attributes to match the dimensions of the 1x image.
  • The src attribute should refer to the 1x image.

For responsive images that use width descriptors:

  • All images listed in src and srcset should have the same aspect ratio.
  • Set the width and height attributes to match the dimensions of the fallback image.
  • Adjust image styling as needed: In the absence of any CSS styling, setting width and height on a responsive image that uses width descriptors will cause the image to always render at the same size - even if the images listed in srcset have varying dimensions. This behavior may not be what you want. Adding width: 100%; height: auto; or width: 100vw; height: auto; to your image styling may give you the visual appearance you want.

For <picture> tags:

  • Set the width and height attributes for all <source> tags: The appropriate values for width and height will depend on how the <source> tag uses srcset. (See above for information on working with srcset.)
  • Adjust image styling: If you need to adjust image styling, keep in mind that adding styling to a <source> tag will have no effect - a <source> tag is an empty element. Instead, you will need to style the corresponding <img> tag.
  • Set the width and height attributes on the <img> tag: These values should match the intrinsic size of the fallback image.
<!-- Using density descriptors -->
<img width="480" height="330"
    srcset="cat-1x.jpg, cat-2x.jpg 2x, cat-3x.jpg 3x"
    src="cat-1x.jpg"
    alt="Photo of a cat on a green background">
<!-- Using width descriptors -->    
<img width="256" height="128"
    srcset="dog-256w.jpg 256w, dog-512w.jpg 512w, dog-1028w.jpg 1028w"
    src="dog-256w.jpg"
    alt="Photo of a dog on a orange background">
<!-- Picture tag -->
<picture>
    <source media="(max-width: 720px)" width="600" height="300" srcset="newyork-rectangle.jpg" />
    <source media="(min-width: 721px)" width="600" height="600" srcset="newyork-square-1x.jpg, newyork-square-2x.jpg 2x, newyork-square-3x.jpg 3x" />
    <img src="newyork-rectangle.jpg" width="600" height="300" alt="Photo of the Empire State Building">
</picture>
Last updated: Improve article