Responsive Image Gallery with Thumbnail Carousel

A tutorial on how to create a responsive image gallery with a thumbnail carousel using Elastislide. Inspired by Twitter's "user gallery" and upon a request to show an integration of Elastislide, we want to implement a responsive gallery that adapts to the view-port width. The gallery will have a view switch that allows to view it with the thumbnail carousel or without. We'll also add the possibility to navigate with the keyboard.
Responsive Image Gallery

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Today we want to show you how to create a responsive image gallery with a thumbnail carousel using Elastislide. Inspired by Twitter’s “user gallery” and upon a request to show an integration of Elastislide, we want to implement a responsive gallery that adapts to the view-port width. The gallery will have a view switch that allows to view it with the thumbnail carousel or without. We’ll also add the possibility to navigate with the keyboard.

We’ll use the jQuery Touchwipe Plugin that will make it possible to navigate the images by “wiping” on the iPhone and iPad.

The images in the demo are by ΓΌber-talented Sherman Geronimo-Tan and you can find his Flickr photostream here: Sherman Geronimo-Tan’s Flickr Photostream
The photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License.

So, let’s do it!

The Markup

For the HTML structure we’ll have a main wrapper with the class “rg-gallery”. We’ll also give it the same ID. In another div with the class “rg-thumbs” we’ll add the structure of the Elastislide carousel:

<div id="rg-gallery" class="rg-gallery">
	<div class="rg-thumbs">
		<!-- Elastislide Carousel Thumbnail Viewer -->
		<div class="es-carousel-wrapper">
			<div class="es-nav">
				<span class="es-nav-prev">Previous</span>
				<span class="es-nav-next">Next</span>
			<div class="es-carousel">
						<a href="#">
							<img src="images/thumbs/1.jpg" data-large="images/1.jpg" alt="image01" data-description="Some description" />
		<!-- End Elastislide Carousel Thumbnail Viewer -->
	</div><!-- rg-thumbs -->
</div><!-- rg-gallery -->

The thumbnails will have two data attributes that we’ll use later in our JavaScript. The “data-large” attribute will have the path to the large image and the “data-description” attribute will contain the caption of the image that we will display under the current large image.

For the structure of the large preview area we will create a jQuery template that we’ll add to the head of our document:

<script id="img-wrapper-tmpl" type="text/x-jquery-tmpl">	
	<div class="rg-image-wrapper">
		{{if itemsCount > 1}}
			<div class="rg-image-nav">
				<a href="#" class="rg-image-nav-prev">Previous Image</a>
				<a href="#" class="rg-image-nav-next">Next Image</a>
		<div class="rg-image"></div>
		<div class="rg-loading"></div>
		<div class="rg-caption-wrapper">
			<div class="rg-caption" style="display:none;">

We are adding a condition that will make sure that the navigation is only shown if there is more than one image. The “rg-image” container will be used to add the large image.

Let’s take a look at the style.


Besides adjusting a few values like the padding and the margins of the Elastislide thumbnail carousel, we need to style the resting elements of the gallery.

The “rg-image-wrapper” that you saw in our jQuery template will be of relative position and we’ll add a repeated semi-transparent black background image. The borders will be rounded and we’ll give it a min-height of 20 pixels so that the loading element fits into the container initially when the first image get’s loaded:

	padding:20px 30px;
	background:transparent url(../images/black.png) repeat top left;
	-moz-border-radius: 10px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 10px;
	border-radius: 10px;

The container that we’ll use to add the big image will be relative and have a line-height of 0. By adding text-align “center” we make all inline elements align in the center. But since we’ll not set the image to “display:block”, we need to add a line-height of 0. This will make sure that there is no gap under the image which is an inline-element by default:


By setting the max-width of our large image to 100%, we make sure that it will always stay in the surrounding fluid container. This is very nicely explained in Fluid Images by Ethan Marcotte on A List Apart.
Now, why setting the max-height to 100% as well? We actually don’t need this but if you would like to restrict the size of the preview area you could set a fixed height for the “rg-image” class and the image would fit in it while still resizing when the width of the view-port changes.

.rg-image img{

Let’s style the navigation elements. The style of the arrow anchors will be the following:

.rg-image-nav a{
	background:#000 url(../images/nav.png) no-repeat -20% 50%;
	-moz-border-radius: 10px 0px 0px 10px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 10px 0px 0px 10px;
	border-radius: 10px 0px 0px 10px;

This is actually the style of the left arrow and now we’ll overwrite some properties for the right arrow:

.rg-image-nav a.rg-image-nav-next{
	background-position:115% 50%;
	-moz-border-radius: 0px 10px 10px 0px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 0px 10px 10px 0px;
	border-radius: 0px 10px 10px 0px;

Since we already defined the left value for the elements in general we need to set it to auto again if we want to use “right” instead.

On hover we want to make them more opaque:

.rg-image-nav a:hover{

The caption will have the following style:

.rg-caption {
.rg-caption p{
	font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', 'Myriad Pro', Arial, sans-serif;
	padding:0 15px;

Now, let’s style the switch options:

.rg-view a{
	background:#464646 url(../images/views.png) no-repeat top left;
	border:3px solid #464646;
.rg-view a:hover{
.rg-view a.rg-view-full{
	background-position:0px 0px;
.rg-view a.rg-view-selected{
.rg-view a.rg-view-thumbs{
	background-position:0px -16px;

And finally, we’ll make the loading element appear in the center of the image preview:

	background:#000 url(../images/ajax-loader.gif) no-repeat center center;
	margin:-23px 0px 0px -23px;
	-moz-border-radius: 10px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 10px;
	border-radius: 10px;

And that’s all the style! Let’s take a look at the JavaScript.

The JavaScript

The main idea of the gallery is to make it flexible, so partly we have achieved that by our style: the large image will adjust to the container. For making the thumbnail carousel responsive, we’ll use Elastislide, our previous plugin.
First, lets define some variables:

	// gallery container
var $rgGallery			= $('#rg-gallery'),
	// carousel container
	$esCarousel			= $rgGallery.find(''),
	// the carousel items
	$items				= $esCarousel.find('ul > li'),
	// total number of items
	itemsCount			= $items.length;

Then we’ll define our gallery function:

	Gallery				= (function() {
		//gallery function


Here we’ll define some variables for the current image, the mode and a variable for controlling if an image is being loaded. Then we’ll call some of our functions that are following below:

var current			= 0, 
	// mode : carousel || fullview
	mode 			= 'carousel',
	// control if one image is being loaded
	anim			= false,
	init			= function() {
		// (not necessary) preloading the images here...
		$items.add('<img src="images/ajax-loader.gif"/><img src="images/black.png"/>').imagesLoaded( function() {
			// add options
			// add large image wrapper
			// show first image
			_showImage( $items.eq( current ) );
		// initialize the carousel

We need to call the Elastislide plugin:

_initCarousel	= function() {
		imageW 	: 65,
		onClick	: function( $item ) {
			if( anim ) return false;
			anim	= true;
			// on click show image
			// change current
			current	= $item.index();
	// set elastislide's current to current
	$esCarousel.elastislide( 'setCurrent', current );

Read more about Elastislide’s options here: Elastislide – A Responsive jQuery Carousel Plugin.

Our next function will take care of the viewing modes and what happens when we switch the views:

_addViewModes	= function() {
	// top right buttons: hide / show carousel
	var $viewfull	= $('<a href="#" class="rg-view-full"></a>'),
		$viewthumbs	= $('<a href="#" class="rg-view-thumbs rg-view-selected"></a>');
	$rgGallery.prepend( $('<div class="rg-view"/>').append( $viewfull ).append( $viewthumbs ) );
	$viewfull.bind('click.rgGallery', function( event ) {
		$esCarousel.elastislide( 'destroy' ).hide();
		mode	= 'fullview';
		return false;
	$viewthumbs.bind('click.rgGallery', function( event ) {
		mode	= 'carousel';
		return false;

The _addImageWrapper function adds the structure for the large image and the navigation buttons if the number of total items is greater than one.
It also initializes the navigation events. Using the jQuery Touchwipe Plugin, we’ll add support for the wipe gesture and also for keyboard navigation:

_addImageWrapper= function() {
	$('#img-wrapper-tmpl').tmpl( {itemsCount : itemsCount} ).appendTo( $rgGallery );
	if( itemsCount > 1 ) {
		// addNavigation
		var $navPrev		= $rgGallery.find('a.rg-image-nav-prev'),
			$navNext		= $rgGallery.find('a.rg-image-nav-next'),
			$imgWrapper		= $rgGallery.find('div.rg-image');
		$navPrev.bind('click.rgGallery', function( event ) {
			_navigate( 'left' );
			return false;
		$navNext.bind('click.rgGallery', function( event ) {
			_navigate( 'right' );
			return false;
		// add touchwipe events on the large image wrapper
			wipeLeft			: function() {
				_navigate( 'right' );
			wipeRight			: function() {
				_navigate( 'left' );
			preventDefaultEvents: false
		$(document).bind('keyup.rgGallery', function( event ) {
			if (event.keyCode == 39)
				_navigate( 'right' );
			else if (event.keyCode == 37)
				_navigate( 'left' );	

The navigation through the large images is controlled by the following function:

_navigate		= function( dir ) {
	if( anim ) return false;
	anim	= true;
	if( dir === 'right' ) {
		if( current + 1 >= itemsCount )
			current = 0;
	else if( dir === 'left' ) {
		if( current - 1 < 0 )
			current = itemsCount - 1;
	_showImage( $items.eq( current ) );

Depening in which direction we are moving, we are setting the current element to one less or one more.

And finally we’ll define the _showImage function that will add the large image and its caption:

_showImage		= function( $item ) {
	// shows the large image that is associated to the $item
	var $loader	= $rgGallery.find('div.rg-loading').show();
	var $thumb		= $item.find('img'),
		largesrc	= $'large'),
		title		= $'description');
	$('<img/>').load( function() {
		$rgGallery.find('div.rg-image').empty().append('<img src="' + largesrc + '"/>');
		if( title )
			$rgGallery.find('div.rg-caption').show().children('p').empty().text( title );
		if( mode === 'carousel' ) {
			$esCarousel.elastislide( 'reload' );
			$esCarousel.elastislide( 'setCurrent', current );
		anim	= false;
	}).attr( 'src', largesrc );

return { init : init };

And that’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed this gallery tutorial and find it useful!

Tagged with:

Mary Lou

ML is a freelance web designer and developer with a passion for interaction design. She studied Cognitive Science and Computational Logic and has a weakness for the smell of freshly ground peppercorns.

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Comments are closed.
  1. how can i have two galleries in the same page?

    Coping and pasting the same code i can’t do it

  2. I have images of various dimensions. And I moved the thumbnail carousel under the big images.
    How can I have dynamic margins above and below the large image so that the carousel doesn’t move up and down? Javascript? Who can help me insert the right code?

  3. Hakan, to put slider under large image i changed

    .appendTo( $rgGallery );

    .insertBefore( $rgThumbs );

    and added variable
    $rgThumbs = $rgGallery.find(‘div.rg-thumbs’),

    thats worked for me

  4. How can I change the size of the thumbs?
    Which Jquery version is the minimum required?
    Regards, Isabell

  5. Now, if one would add album support, fancy fade/slide effects to main image container and SlideShowPro Director integration and optional skins I’d say total world domination would be next πŸ˜‰

  6. Following the ResponsiveGallery demo (which works beautifully and is easy to understand and customize, thank you!), I am attempting to dynamically load more slides into the elastislide via the technique outlined in this ( post, and while with a little tweaking they add to the carousel nicely, the click function isn’t bound to them… it seems like the culprit could be the onClick method used in the elastislide plugin, but I am unsure because the tutorial I linked above seemed to imply that it could handle dynamically inserted content.

    a pointer in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

    best, Owen

    • @Owen thank you!
      OK, now it works πŸ™‚ I updated the zip file. I added the function “addItems” in gallery.js. in the end of the script you will find an example (commented). I have also updated the jQuery version. Let us know if it works. Best, ML

  7. Hi Mary..Thank’s for this nice sample…it’s possible to add hyperlink in detail image, so when we click on it will open to other page..

    Best Regards


  8. (My comment didn’t seem to work so here it is again.)

    @Mary Lou – Thanks for the update!

    Works great. Nice implementation of the new jquery handler .on()! I was fooling around with .delegate and it wasn’t working as nicely.

    I’ve attempted to modified the gallery plugin to support multiple instances by wrapping it in “return $(this).each( function () { });” and giving each instance a unique ID, which works for the images/nav, however, the $esCarousel selector is used for every instance and adding, destroying, etc. have a global effect… I tried the same technique of unique IDs but to no avail.

    once again a pointer in the right direction would be greatly appreciated!


  9. Yes, this is very nice.

    But having multiple instanced per page capabilities would be a big plus.

  10. Hi,

    verry useful utility tutorial. I’ve one question how to add sound and an automatic slideshow on this example?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards from spain

  11. Hi Mary,

    Great Gallery, can I ask if it is possible to add play/pause button and add some background sound on it?

    Thanks a lot, regards from Spain

  12. I got multiple instances working, the trick is to wrap the gallery plugin in an each statement per my comment above, and then every time the gallery plugin calls the elastislide plugin, you need to set the selector relative to that instance.

    Using a counter to create unique IDs:
    $(this).attr(‘id’, ‘es-gallery-‘ + g);
    $(this).find(‘’).attr(‘id’, ‘es-carousel-‘ + g);

    Then whenever init the carousel or modifying it, selecting the right one with:
    var $esCarousel = $esGallery.find(‘.es-carousel-wrapper’).attr(‘id’);
    $(‘#’ + $esCarousel).elastislide( ‘setCurrent’, current );

    Maybe there is a better way but this method works.

  13. Hi,

    Thank you Mary Lou, this gallery is great.

    I have a question:
    Vasily mentioned how to put the slider under the large image, but being a newbie to jQuery, I have not be able to understand how to do it.

    Can you help?

    Vasily wrote:


    Many thanks.

    The website I’m working on is here:
    I’ve turned the gallery into a white gallery πŸ™‚

    best regards from New Zealand!

    • @Sambodhi thanks!
      You just need to replace “appendTo” with “prependTo” in gallery.js. Hope it helps! Cheers, ML

  14. Hey Mary Lou,

    thank you so much for all these wonderful tutorials of yours. You make webdesign a little more interesting with every post.

    I adapted this image slider for my own portfolio and figured everything out besides one little thing. As you can see ( I have placed the carousel on the bottom. Everytime you switch to a different image you can now see the carousel flashing below the main view. Do you have any idea how to the rid of the flashing?

    Best wishes from Denmark

    Hey Jessica,

    you can add more images basically the same way you would delete them. Simply copy everything between and , change the paths (src and data-large), the alt and data-description and you should be good to go:)

    • @Severin Thanks! Sorry but I am not seeing it. With which browser are you seeing the page? I have tested with the latest Chrome & Firefox and it seems fine. Cheers, ML

  15. Hey Mary,

    the problems appears only in the lastest version of chrome for OSX. It works fine in Firefox, Safari and Opera. I tried to reset Chrome and clear its cache, but it doesn’t seem to help. But it is indeed strange that it only appears to happen in Chrome.

    Thank you for the quick reply πŸ™‚

    • @Severin I honestly don’t know what the problem can be. I will try to take a look though. Anybody else with the same problem?? Thanks!
      Cheers, ML.