Thumbnails Navigation Gallery with jQuery

In this tutorial we are going to create an extraordinary gallery with scrollable thumbnails that slide out from a navigation. We are going to use jQuery and some CSS3 properties […]

In this tutorial we are going to create an extraordinary gallery with scrollable thumbnails that slide out from a navigation. We are going to use jQuery and some CSS3 properties for the style. The main idea is to have a menu of albums where each item will reveal a horizontal bar with thumbnails when clicked. The thumbnails container will scroll automatically when the user moves the mouse to the left or right.

When a thumbnail is clicked it will be loaded as a full image preview in the background of the page. We will also have a text container for one of the menu items.

The beautiful photos are from Mark Sebastian’s photostream on Flickr. You can find all the images used in the demo in the set The “IT” Factor. Please review the Creative Commons license that is included in the demo.

So, let’s get started!

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The Markup

Our HTML is mainly going to consist of a wrapper and the menu list. We will have some other elements, like the full image, the loading div and the halftone overlay. First, let’s create the wrapper:

<div id="st_main" class="st_main">


Inside of our wrapper we will add the following:

<img src="images/album/1.jpg" alt="" class="st_preview" style="display:none;"/>

<div class="st_overlay"></div>

<h1>Mark Sebastian</h1>

<div id="st_loading" class="st_loading">

The first element is our full preview image. The overlay is going to be a fixed div which will stretch over the whole screen repeating a halftone pattern to create a fancy overlay effect on the image. We also add a title and a loading div.

We then add an unordered list where each li element is going to contain a span for its title and the thumbnails wrapper. The last li element is going to contain some wrapper for text, that’s why we will not give it the class “album”. Later, in the jQuery function we will need to distinguish that.

<ul id="st_nav" class="st_navigation">
	<li class="album">
		<span class="st_link">
			Newest Collection
			<span class="st_arrow_down"></span>
		<div class="st_wrapper st_thumbs_wrapper">
			<div class="st_thumbs">
				<img src="images/album/thumbs/1.jpg" alt="images/album/1.jpg"/>
				<img src="images/album/thumbs/2.jpg" alt="images/album/2.jpg"/>
		<span class="st_link">
			<span class="st_arrow_down"></span>
		<div class="st_about st_thumbs_wrapper">
			<div class="st_subcontent">
					Some description

The thumbnail images get the alt value of the path to the full size image. That might not be the proper use of the alt attribute, but it’s just so convenient for our functionality that we will use it this way.

Let’s take a look at the style.


First, let’s reset the paddings and margins for all elements and define the general styles:

	font-family:"Myriad Pro","Trebuchet MS", Helvetica, sans-serif;

Making the body overflow hidden we avoid any scroll bar appearing, but you can adapt that to your needs. I.e. if it is important that the full sized image is completely viewable by the user, you might want to remove the overflow:hidden property.

Next, we will define the style for the full size image, the overlay and the loading div:

.st_main img.st_preview{
	background:transparent url(../images/pattern.png) repeat-x bottom left;
	background:#000 url(../images/icons/loader.gif) no-repeat 10px 50%;
	padding:15px 40px 15px 60px;
	-moz-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	-webkit-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;

By setting the image width to be always 100%, we make sure that it occupies all the horizontal space on the page. For very large screens the image might look pixelated which can, of course, be avoided by using gigantic images. In our demo we use a maximum width of 1600 pixel to make the loading time bearable. The halftone pattern on top of the image helps a little to disguise a pixelated effect.

Please note that whenever opacity is used, the IE filter property needs to be used if you want to achieve semi-transparent effects in IE. The overlay looks like crap if you use the filter property, though. Check out the ZIP file, I added the IE DXImageTransform filter to the respective styles.

The navigation will be positioned absolutely:


The initial left value is set to -300 pixel because we want to slide it in only after our full image is loaded. If you use longer titles in the list items, you might need to adapt this value.

Our list elements are going to have the following style:

ul.st_navigation li {

The span for the title will be styled as follows:

ul.st_navigation li span.st_link{
	padding:0px 20px;
	-moz-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	-webkit-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;

Next, we define the style for the spans with the up/down arrow for opening and closing the thumbnail container:

ul.st_navigation li span.st_arrow_down,
ul.st_navigation li span.st_arrow_up{
	-moz-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	-webkit-box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
	box-shadow:0px 0px 2px #000;
ul.st_navigation li span.st_arrow_down{
	background:#000 url(../images/icons/down.png) no-repeat center center;
ul.st_navigation li span.st_arrow_up{
	background:#000 url(../images/icons/up.png) no-repeat center center;

The wrapper for the thumbnail container will be positioned absolutely and we want to hide any vertical overflow:

	position: absolute;

Although the thumbs are only 120 pixels high, we want to leave some space so that the box shadow of the images inside will not be cut away.
The thumbnails container will simply be styled as follows:

    margin: 0;

The thumbnails will have a neat box shadow and some spacing:

.st_thumbs img{
    margin:3px 3px 0px 0px;
	-moz-box-shadow:1px 1px 5px #000;
	-webkit-box-shadow:1px 1px 5px #000;
	box-shadow:1px 1px 5px #000;

The st_about class is the wrapper class for the text container:


And, finally the text container itself:

	-moz-box-shadow:0px 0px 10px #000;
	-webkit-box-shadow:0px 0px 10px #000;
	box-shadow:0px 0px 10px #000;

And that’s all the style! Let’s make some magic!

The JavaScript

In our jQuery function we will first define some variables:

//the loading image
var $loader		= $('#st_loading');
//the ul element
var $list		= $('#st_nav');
//the current image being shown
var $currImage 	= $('#st_main').children('img:first');

The first thing that we want to do is to load the current full size image. After it’s loaded, we want the navigation to appear:

	//slide out the menu

The buildThumbs() function calculates the widths of all the thumbnail containers. We need that value for the automatic scrolling function later on:


function buildThumbs(){
		var $elem 			= $(this);
		var $thumbs_wrapper = $elem.find('.st_thumbs_wrapper');
		var $thumbs 		= $thumbs_wrapper.children(':first');
		//each thumb has 180px and we add 3 of margin
		var finalW 			= $thumbs.find('img').length * 183;
		$thumbs.css('width',finalW + 'px');
		//make this element scrollable

Next, we define the behavior of clicking on the arrows. If it’s down, we will expand the thumbnail container and hide any other. If it’s up, we will make the current container hide again.

	var $this = $(this);
	var $elem = $this.closest('li');
	var $thumbs_wrapper = $this.parent().next();
	var $this = $(this);

Before we define the hideThumbs() function, we specify what happens when clicking on a thumb. The full size image will show and while it’s loading we will make the loading div appear. Then we animate the opacity and fade the image in:

$list.find('.st_thumbs img').bind('click',function(){
	var $this = $(this);
	$('<img class="st_preview"/>').load(function(){
		var $this = $(this);
		var $currImage = $('#st_main').children('img:first');

The function to hide the thumbnails looks as follows:

function hideThumbs(){
		 .find('.st_link span')

We animate the height of the li and make the thumbnails container disappear like that. We also need to set the class for the arrow span correctly.

And finally, we will define the makeScrollable() function that automatically scrolls the thumbnails div horizontally on mouse move:

function makeScrollable($outer, $inner){
	var extra 			= 800;
	//Get menu width
	var divWidth = $outer.width();
	//Remove scrollbars
		overflow: 'hidden'
	//Find last image in container
	var lastElem = $inner.find('img:last');
	//When user move mouse over menu
		var containerWidth = lastElem[0].offsetLeft + lastElem.outerWidth() + 2*extra;
		var left = (e.pageX - $outer.offset().left) * (containerWidth-divWidth) / divWidth - extra;

For cufonizing the titles and adding some decent shadow, we will include the following into the head of our html document:

<script src="js/cufon-yui.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="js/Quicksand_Book_400.font.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
		textShadow: '0px 0px 1px #ffffff'

And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed the tutorial and find it useful!

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Comments are closed.
  1. Hey! Nice tut!!
    Any chance to have a “fix” for vertical images?
    My jquery knowledge sucks to make it on my own =)
    Thanks for your help

    • @Daniele if you want a quick “fix” for the thumbnails, just add height:120px to the .st_thumbs img class. For making a vertical image accessible you might want to remove the overflow:hidden from the body style. Hope it helps!

  2. waht I can say, excellent !! it’s great ! really nice result, and of course, a great well explained tutorial !!!

    thanks for share ! today best jquery tutorial on the planet !

  3. Nice! Any way to make the accordion slide when I click on the album name instead of the arrow?

  4. Another amazing effect. You guys rock! Thanks so much for sharing all this stuff.

  5. Thank you all for your great comments! @MSNFC Thank you for sharing that! It’s really awesome! Cheers, ML

  6. Any clue on how to make the navigation list scrollable if there are more itel lists?

    lets say i have 15 sets of photography, how do i make the menu scroll while backround is fixed?

    anyway, good tutorial

  7. Hi Thomas, you could remove the overflow:hidden from the body style and change the position:absolute to position:fixed in the st_preview class. Then you can scroll the whole page, making all your menu items accessible but keeping the main image fixed. Hope it helps! Cheers, ML

  8. wow ! so creative work.I was badly looking for HTML verison. Thanks for such a lovely work !

    There’s an paid Flash version, which looks similar.

  9. Must say this is inspiring. Very smooth and the design concept feels fresh. Great work on the tut

  10. Again you own πŸ™‚ Very nice stuff. Very inspiring, well designed (as usual) and very well explained πŸ™‚

    Best wishes,


  11. I want to use it whith relative position instead of absolute position but the transition (fade) doesn’t work properly.
    The new image is loaded next to the current image and this one dissapears with the fade effect, but for 2-3 seconds the two images are at the same time on screen.
    How can I fix this? thanks.

  12. Thanks for the previous answer.
    Now another question:

    How could i put a link in the background image?

  13. Can I use it without “cufonizing”? Text always disappear when I remove cufon-yui.js … It is possible use it for normal text to? And how?

    Thank you

  14. @Tom Nedved I’m using it without cufonizing the text.
    You need to add the font color you want to the class that affects the text you want to change.
    I changed the color of the text in the menus just by adding the font color to the ul.st_navigation li span.st_link. Hope it’ll help.

  15. i don’t have words to say,
    just a big-very big thanks to Mary Lou!

    Mary Lou i love you!!!:)

    all the best!

  16. i try to fix the width/height bug using the manos#msnfc script for full screen bg but i can’t get it to work for some reason,

    i have add the id to the images, include the script and the load function but with no luck!

    anyone have fixed this?
    any help please?


  17. @Philip

    In the original scripts do the following:

    a) Edit “style.css” and change “.st_main img.st_preview” position to “fixed”.

    b) Edit “index.html” and add “FullScreenBackground(this);” inside “(img) load.()” function (loads 1st image) right after the “setTimeout” function.

    c) On the same file add “FullScreenBackground(this);” inside “(img.st_preview).load()” function (replaces the large image) right below “loader.hide()”.

    d) Finally, in the end of the script, just before the main function closes add the “FullScreenBackground” function just as it is on the script at and also add the “(window).resize” function (from the same script). Inside the window resize function add “FullScreenBackground(‘.st_main img.st_preview’)”.

    gl πŸ™‚

  18. Simply fantastic stuff…will definitely be using this soon! You guys provide by far the most creative and tasteful tutorials around…keep up the awesomeness!

  19. hi Mary,

    What’s the licensing for this?
    can i convert it to wordpress theme?

    thanks a lot,
    another great tut!!!

  20. Is there any way to make the thumbs open vertical instead of horizontal?

    Otherwise awesome job!

  21. I have been trying to put this slideshow into a single div (embed it) so it would not make up the whole site but just a part, but I have nog succeeded. Has anyone been able to do this?

  22. Hello Ma’am,

    I am the developer of and in last 3 yrs I have come across number of javascript developers and out of those you really stand apart. You style of writing is really clean and above that the creative outlook you intermingle with you code really makes it amazing.
    Keep doing the good work as you always do and I shall be closely and keenly following you. Last month you introduced barrage new tutorials and just to follow suite I have started updating my site on daily basis and I am eagerly awaiting for new things to come up at your resource.
    Best of regards..

  23. Hey,this is very nice work,but can someone tell me how to add 2 controls (next/prev) for the images so one doesn’t have to click a thumbnail to see a image? Many thanks ,and keep up the good work! πŸ˜‰

  24. Awesome tutorial, looks really classy, cool and modern.

    It would be better if the whole block was clickable to reveal the thumbnails though.

    To expand a “hide all” button could hide all text so you can view the picture.

  25. When adding another album do you just copy and paste the code up above?
    I want multiple albums on one page…

  26. …ok, other thing, isn’t it annoying that you have to click on arrow every time when you want to see whole image? How can i do this: after click on thumb that menu will close. Because it’s to much to click πŸ˜€

  27. Mary, ahoy! Could I use this for “commercial” sites/ wp-themes? If so, is it mandatory that I attribute/linkback it?
    Thanks in advance.

  28. Is it possible/legal to upload this demo (without linking back) in my own website so I can show it to my clients and sell the design to them? Because I found someone who’s doing that and I don’t know if it’s OK.

  29. Nice !

    But i have problem with Portaits !
    Can somebody write here how to fix verticaly pictures ?

    pls help.