Playing with Fire: Examples of Creating Flame Effects with Code

By on CSS, JavaScript

It’s hard to think of a natural (or manmade) phenomena that grabs the attention quite like fire. You see it and can’t look away. Maybe it has something to do with that old fight-or-flight response?

But it’s not just the natural world taking notice. The web has long been home to fiery GIFs and all manner of attempts to digitally recreate the effect. And as technology has improved, so have the renderings of fire.

Thus, it seems like a good time to dig into the archives of CodePen to see how developers are working with flames these days. Below is a selection of the most interesting examples. Some are ultra-realistic; others are a bit more abstract. One thing they all have in common is the ability to command a user’s attention. Let’s get started!

SVG on Fire

The use of SVG in animation has exploded in recent years. Combining the sharpness of vector graphics with movement is very attractive – and it’s on full-display in this snippet. The campfire-like effect looks similar to a faux fireplace that uses cellophane instead of real flames. The movements are natural and the tiny sparks are an added bonus.

See the Pen SVG Fire 🔥 by Steve Gardner

Fun Flames

This example, created with pure CSS, is reminiscent of a graphic equalizer. Here, the three layers of flames are represented by colored bars that rhythmically jump up and down. Far from realistic, but fun nonetheless.

See the Pen campfire by Short

Candle in the (Strong) Wind

If you’re looking for something a bit more realistic, this JavaScript-powered flickering flame is a good choice. It not only has the legitimate look of a lit candle wick, there is a full screen luminescence as well. However, the movement may need to be slowed down for effective use on a website.

See the Pen Flame in the wind by Blake Bowen

Hot Logo

When we think of fire effects, our first thought may be of an overwhelming visual. But subtlety can also be quite effective, as is the case with this animated logo. Here, the effect adds a touch of modernity to the retro-styled composition.

See the Pen Oak Stave : SVG Logo Animation by DroidPinkman

Game Over?

Much like fire effects, 8-bit graphics seem to have found a permanent home on the web. Their simple, pixelated look is both fun and a great reminder of classic video games. This snippet shows both of the effects coming together in glorious harmony. At first glance, a line of fire fades out. Then you realize that the flames are also attached to cursor movements. As you move around, fire follows. Totally rad!

See the Pen Bitfire 🔥 by J Scott Smith

Flying Through Space

It’s hard to believe that this flame-tinged sky effect was crafted with just HTML and CSS. But it shows what’s possible with a seamless background and some movement. Warp speed, indeed.

See the Pen CSS wormhole by Indrek Paas

It’s Bubbly

This is not your traditional campfire. Rather, it seems more liquid-like (or maybe even a tad like a ghost). Still, this would be a great fit for sites that rely more on illustrations to tell their story. The movements are subtle and, despite the uniqueness of the look, still recognizable.

See the Pen Simple CSS-only Fire Animation by Satrio Yamanda

Time Stands Still

Here’s a different take on fire. Having a full-width background of raging orange and yellow flames could be a little too intense. This snippet offers a great alternative. A still photo of flames sits in the background, while hundreds of tiny particles act as sparks, dancing their way around them. The effect is something to behold.

See the Pen Fire by Michal

Burning up the Web

Sure, the use of fire effects isn’t appropriate for every website. But there are a number of potential use cases. Sites that focus on specific topics such as camping, the outdoors or even scary stories could be a fit. You might even see it implemented on the official site of the next big action movie.

More than that, though, is how these effects represent advancements in technology. For instance, some of the pure CSS examples in our collection may have required powerful software to replicate just a few years ago. Then consider just how intricate these effects are when paired with the right JavaScript library.

So, while fire may be among the most ancient things in our world, we might also use it to judge our present.

Want to see more hot examples? Check out our CodePen collection.