Direction-Aware Hover Effect with CSS3 and jQuery

How to create a direction-aware hover effect using CSS3 and jQuery. The idea is to slide in an overlay from the direction we are moving with the mouse.
Direction Aware Hover Effect

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In today’s tip we’ll show you how to create a direction-aware hover effect using some CSS3 goodness and jQuery. The idea is to have a little overlay slide in on top of some thumbnails from the direction that we are coming from with the mouse. When we “leave” the element, the overlay will slide out to that direction, following our mouse. This will create an interesting-looking effect.

We’ll use an unordered list for the thumbnails and the description overlays:

<ul id="da-thumbs" class="da-thumbs">
		<a href="">
			<img src="images/7.jpg" />
			<div><span>Natalie & Justin Cleaning by Justin Younger</span></div>
		<!-- ... -->
	<!-- ... -->

The list items will be floating left and have a relative positioning because we will make the description overlay absolute:

.da-thumbs li {
	float: left;
	margin: 5px;
	background: #fff;
	padding: 8px;
	position: relative;
	box-shadow: 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.1);
.da-thumbs li a,
.da-thumbs li a img {
	display: block;
	position: relative;
.da-thumbs li a {
	overflow: hidden;
.da-thumbs li a div {
	position: absolute;
	background: rgba(75,75,75,0.7);
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;

What we will do is the following: depending on the place we are entering with the mouse, we’ll apply the respective “from” style which will set the correct initial position of the overlay. Then we will apply the transition and then we add the final state style, so that the overlay slides in. When we leave the element, we will again apply the respective “from” style (although now we are actually sliding out) and remove the previous final state style.

So, the heart of our little plugin is the following part:

this.$el.on( 'mouseenter.hoverdir, mouseleave.hoverdir', function( event ) {
	var $el = $( this ),
		$hoverElem = $el.find( 'div' ),
		direction = self._getDir( $el, { x : event.pageX, y : event.pageY } ),
		styleCSS = self._getStyle( direction );
	if( event.type === 'mouseenter' ) {
		$hoverElem.hide().css( styleCSS.from );
		clearTimeout( self.tmhover );

		self.tmhover = setTimeout( function() {
			$ 0, function() {
				var $el = $( this );
				if( ) {
					$el.css( 'transition', self.transitionProp );
				self._applyAnimation( $el,, self.options.speed );

			} );
		}, self.options.hoverDelay );
	else {
		if( ) {
			$hoverElem.css( 'transition', self.transitionProp );
		clearTimeout( self.tmhover );
		self._applyAnimation( $hoverElem, styleCSS.from, self.options.speed );
} );

We basically bind the ‘mouseenter’ and ‘mouseleave’ event to the list item and with the function _getDir we’ll get the direction we are moving in or out (imagine the “detection” area for each direction as a rectangle divided into four triangles).

You’ll see that in the second demo we’ve added a little delay so that we don’t have much animations going on when we move the mouse from an extreme corner to another one.

I hope you enjoyed this little effect and find it useful!

If CSS transitions are not supported the animation will fallback to the jQuery animate

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. Hi, I work for Colorz | Creative Digital Agency ๐Ÿ™‚

    I really liked the way you recreated this effect !

    mouseenter and mouseleave allow a lot of cool things that we will publish later ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Hello, I really like this effect, but it’s not working in IE, is to make it work in IE?

    thank you.

  3. I’m having a little trouble adapting the script to a existing markup that differs a little from the example one, what parts are the important ones that I need to modify for this to work in the script?

  4. Very nice effect!

    However, I can’t figure how to center it in my 100% width div (i.e: If i want 6 pictures, 4 pictures on the first line, the oters 2 on the second line stay on the left ๐Ÿ™ )

    Thanks anyway! you’re great!

  5. From the design perspective I love this demo.

    BUT, from the usability point of view, it does feel like the mouse/stylus has ‘stuck’. It’s a small point, but one that non-designer-users might find annoying.

  6. I have been using the same interaction on my site. It has received some good responses.

    • Hi Jared,
      it looks really nice and I think it’s even better with an opaque background! The first time I saw it on Colorz, I really loved it because it’s such a fresh and non-boring effect ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Well, I have tried implementing this trick. I see the sliding effect only in Safari. What have I done wrong? I am shocked that I don’t see the effects in FireFox. I had little hope for IE.

    I have tried changing the transition css to include transition-duration with and without “all.”

  8. Looks great! I did something similar for last year, except with mine the overlay fades out on mouseout (per client request). Looks like we used the same code from stackoverflow for the really hard math part, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Thanks for the great tutorial. Was wondering if this will work with lightbox?

  10. Would it be possible to use images in place of the divs with the description?….can I put images inside that div?

  11. I really love this plugin. With some tweaking, it feels really nice and tight. Thank you so much!

    I am having problems with performance, though. Safari for OS X runs it perfectly in all situations, but FIrefox is struggling when I implement it to my site (local). The (local) demo page is fine, though. It might have something to do with the fact that the gallery ‘s are responsive… what do you reckon?