React Slider with Parallax Hover Effects

Walk through the build of a React slider and learn how to implement a parallax hover effect.

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Recently I experimented with building a content slider (or carousel, if that’s your fancy) using React. I wanted to create some unique position-based cursor effects when the user hovers over the active slide. This eventually led to the parallax effect you’ll see in the final demo.

This post will dive into the details of the slider’s components, the dynamic CSS variables used for the parallax hover effect, and some of the other properties that brought this project to life.

See the Pen React Slider w/ Hover Effect by Ryan Mulligan (@hexagoncircle) on CodePen.light

Component Setup

This React slider consists of three components: SliderSlide, and SliderControl. The SliderControl houses the button template used for the previous and next arrow controls. The Slider is the parent component that contains the methods for transitioning slides. Inside the Slider render template, an array of slide objects is iterated over and each slide’s data set is returned within a Slide child component using the map() method:

{ => {
  return (

Each of these rendered slides has the following properties:

  • A unique key (learn more about keys in React here). This key grabs index from the slide’s data.
  • A slide property equal to the slide object so the component can access that set of data.
  • The current property grabs the Slider’s current state value and controls the previous, current, and next classes being set on each slide.
  • handleSlideClick points to the Slider method of the same name to update the current value to the clicked slide’s index. This will animate the clicked slide into view.

Updating slide classes

The Slide element has additional classes set based on the current slide.

if (current === index) classNames += ' slide--current'
else if (current - 1 === index) classNames += ' slide--previous'
else if (current + 1 === index) classNames += ' slide--next'

In the code above, when current equals a slide’s index, that slide becomes active and is given a current class name. Adjacent sibling slides get previous and next class names. By adding these classes to their respective slides, unique hover styles can be applied.

Animation of previous and next slides with cursor changing as elements are hovered

On hover, the cursor changes based on the direction of the slide and that hovered element is pulled towards the current slide along the x-axis. As a result, the user receives some additional visual cues when they are interacting with those neighboring slides.

Slide Parallax Hover Effect

Now for the fun part! The Slide component contains methods that cast parallax magic. The onMouseMove event attribute is using the handleMouseMove method to update the x and y values as the user hovers over the slide. When the cursor is moved off of the slide, onMouseLeave calls handleMouseLeave to reset the x and y values and transition the slide elements back into place.

The x and y coordinates are calculated by finding the user’s cursor in the viewport and where it’s hovering in relation to the center of the slide element. Those coordinate values are assigned to CSS variables (--x and --y) that are then used in transforms to move the child elements around in the slide. In the following pen, click on the “display coordinates” checkbox and hover over the slide to see how the x and y values update to reflect your cursor’s position and movement.

See the Pen Cursor Movement Hover Effect by Ryan Mulligan (@hexagoncircle) on CodePen.light

The Parallax CSS

Let’s take a look at the CSS (Sass) being applied to some of these slide elements:

.slide:hover .slide__image-wrapper {
  --x: 0;
  --y: 0;
  --d: 50
      calc(var(--x) / var(--d) * 1px),
      calc(var(--y) / var(--d) * 1px)

The slide__image-wrapper has overflow: hidden set so that the image can move beyond its wrapper container and hide some of itself beyond the wrapper boundaries. The wrapper container also has a faster transition-duration than the image. Now these elements animate at different speeds. I combined this with some fancy transform calculations and it developed some fluid, independent transitions.

Calculate those transforms

The translate(x, y) values are computed using the CSS calc() function. On the slide__image-wrapper, the --d property (the divisor) is set to 50, which yields a lower coordinate value and less of a push from the slide’s center. Now check out the slide__image transform:

.slide__image.slide--current {
  --d: 20;
      calc(var(--x) / var(--d) * 1px),
      calc(var(--y) / var(--d) * 1px)

The divisor is changed to 20 on the slide__image so that the x and y values in the transform are higher and will push the image further away from the center of slide. Finally, the formula is multiplied by one pixel so that a unit gets applied to the value. Parallax achieved!

Try playing around with the --d values in the CSS and watch how the transitions change! Edit on Codepen.

Does it seem like the slide headline and button seem to move ever so slightly in the opposite direction of the image? Indeed they do! To achieve this, I multiplied the translate(x, y) calculations by negative pixel values instead:

.slide__content {
  --d: 60;
      calc(var(--x) / var(--d) * -1px),
      calc(var(--y) / var(--d) * -1px)

Moving the slides

Check out the Slider component render code in the final demo:

See the Pen React Slider w/ Hover Effect by Ryan Mulligan (@hexagoncircle) on CodePen.light

You’ll notice the slider__wrapper element surrounding the slides. This wrapper transitions back and forth along the x-axis as the user interacts with the slider. The values for this transform are set after the current slide’s index is multiplied by the amount of slides divided into 100.  I’ve added this in a variable on line 163 to keep the template a little cleaner:

'transform': `translateX(-${current * (100 / slides.length)}%)

In this example, there are 4 slides. Click the next arrow button or on the second slide (which has an index of 1) and it will pull the wrapper 25% to the left. Click on the third slide (index of 2), do the math (2 x 25), and watch it move the wrapper 50% to the left.

Some other tidbits

These are a few other features I’d like to quickly call out:

  • If a slide isn’t active, the pointer-events property is set to none. I chose to do this to avoid keyboard tab focusing on buttons inside inactive slides.
  • The parallax effect is only being applied to the current slide by declaring transforms when the slide--current class is present. Inactive slides have their own animations and shouldn’t have all that fun hover magic that the active slide has.
  • Images fade in when they are loaded using the imageLoaded method in the Slide component. This helps the initial load of a slide feel smoother instead of its image just popping in. A future iteration of this project will apply lazy loading as well (which is starting to roll out as a native browser feature; very exciting!)

How would you extend or refactor this idea? I’d love to read your thoughts and comments. Leave them below or reach out to me on Twitter.

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Ryan Mulligan

Ryan is a fellow passenger through space and time, front-end web builder and bittersweet songs enthusiast.

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  1. I appreciate the demo, and it is cool, but React serves no real purpose here. This would have been better as vanilla JS.

    Please don’t shoehorn in an entire library/framework for the purposes of a slider.

    • Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you: React (or any framework) is overkill for such a simple project. This was created for fun, built in React for personal experience. I’m glad you enjoyed otherwise!