8 Code Snippets for Creating Animated Paths


In some ways, it seems like we’re in the golden age of animation on the web. Mainly because there are so many options for implementing it into our projects.

Certainly, you can leverage some high-powered JavaScript libraries to create something other-worldly. But you can also use the effects already built into CSS to add movement to your website. Either way, the end user doesn’t necessarily need fancy hardware or browser plugins to view your creation.

That brings us to today’s subject of animation paths. Through the use of a path, we can achieve a number of exciting effects. We can tell a story, neatly organize a layout, or simply add some creative flair to our designs.

Let’s explore some of the unique ways developers use paths to do more with web animation.

Sign Your Name Animation

Adding an animated signature to something isn’t new – we’ve seen it in television and movies for years. Yet, as we see in this example, it still adds a touch of class. SVG is combined with JavaScript to create a very smooth and sharp effect.

See the Pen SVG Signature Animation by Lloyd Fenton

Rainbow Animation (with No Unicorns)

Perhaps the best thing about this rainbow-themed heart animation is that it demonstrates how incredibly unique animation can be. It takes this heart-shaped path (cool enough on its own) and pairs it with a gradient effect that kicks things up to another level. As for the unicorns, we’ll be satisfied without them – this time.

See the Pen Chunky Gradient Along SVG Path by Shaw

Shattered Dreams

It’s easy to think of animation as a means ok linking things together. But we can also use it to break stuff! For example, this snippet uses GSAP to add a “shattering” effect to the text. Even better, hovering over the text allows things to break in super-slow motion.

See the Pen Shattering Text Animation by Arsen Zbidniakov

Slide Along My Path

Sliders aren’t exactly exciting these days. We’ve pretty much seen all they are capable of – or have we? Well, here’s something different. This slider lays out several image thumbnails along a wavy path. Click a thumbnail, and it moves to the center of the path and displays a full-sized image in the background.

See the Pen Path Slider Advanced Images by lmgonzalves

Is That Menu Following Me?

Quite often, a path is generated by a designer to control an animation. Here, the user has control. As you move your mouse cursor up and down, a hamburger menu follows along the left sidebar. This just goes to show that paths can be used for function as well as form.

See the Pen SVG Gooey Hover Menu Concept by Michael Leonard

Draw Your Own Treasure Map

Dashed lines make for simple, easy-to-understand animation. And this demonstration of the GSAP DrawSVG plugin offers a look at how to implement some of the more common uses for this technique. Yet, it also can serve as a springboard for doing even more.

See the Pen Using DrawSVG for dashed paths (GSAP3) by Craig Roblewsky

Skull Candy

This skull animation may be about as beautiful and intricate as you can get. The high-level detail of the SVG image and the animation’s timing and precision combine for a mesmerizing effect. You can watch as many times as you like by clicking the included “DRAW AGAIN” button.

See the Pen SVG Path Animation by Ali Klein

The Dark Side of The Animation

This full-screen prismatic effect could make for a wonderful background (but only if Pink Floyd doesn’t mind). It uses Lengthy, which makes it easier to create SVG-based animations that use CSS variables. The combination of different line drawing techniques is used to create the far-out light show. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

See the Pen Lengthy:CSS Vars for SVG Path Length by Shaw

Which Path Will You Choose?

By themselves, animation paths may not be all that amazing. What they provide, however, is a way to bring a little order to the chaos (or the opposite, if you so desire) of movement on your site.

The snippets in this collection are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of capabilities. As a designer, you have the power to forge your own unique animation path. Where will it lead?

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