Animate SVGs for GitHub READMEs

Animate SVGs for GitHub READMEs

Programming animations inside your SVG files

Eamonn Cottrell's photo
Eamonn Cottrell
ยทSep 7, 2022ยท

9 min read

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Table of contents

  • What's an SVG?
  • Use Case - GitHub README
  • Get SVG from unDraw
  • Edit the SVG
  • SVG Elements
  • Experimentation
  • Full Example Animation
  • Piece by Piece
  • The Full Code
  • Thanks for Reading! ๐Ÿ™

Holy backslash! We can program SVG animations directly within the file! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

amazing.gif

What's an SVG?

From Wikipedia: SVGs are scalable vector graphics. They are an XML-based vector image format for defining 2d graphics that supports interactivity and animation. They can be scaled in size without loss of quality.

So, SVGs are, in essence, a list of programatic instructions describing a shape or collection of shapes. The file itself is an XML document and when you open one up, it looks a lot like html at first glance. In fact, as we'll see shortly, you can add ids and classes to the different elements in order to manipulate them with CSS just like html elements!

Cool, right?! ๐Ÿ˜

Use Case - GitHub README

I recently updated the README for one of my GitHub projects, unMove. This was what caused me to go down the .svg rabbit hole. I wanted an animation on there without having to resort to something on giphy.

This is what I used first, but it was pretty rough:

That's when I realized that I could "embed" the animation into an .svg and then just add that .svg straight to the README like any other image file.

Below is the graphic I created in Illustrator with the embedded code followed by the full .svg code block:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<svg id="b" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" viewBox="0 0 322.01 322.01">
    <defs>
        <style>
            .e{
                fill:url(#d);
            }
            .rotate{
                transform-origin: center;
                animation: rotation 20s infinite linear;
            }
            @keyframes rotation{
                from{
                    transform: rotate(0deg);
                }
                to{
                    transform: rotate(359deg);
                }
            }
        </style>
        <radialGradient id="d" cx="161.01" cy="161.01" fx="161.01" fy="161.01" r="161.01" gradientUnits="userSpaceOnUse">
            <stop offset="0" stop-color="red"/>
            <stop offset=".22" stop-color="#ff0"/>
            <stop offset=".4" stop-color="#f7931e"/>
            <stop offset=".73" stop-color="#f0f"/>
            <stop offset="1" stop-color="#aca1c9"/>
        </radialGradient>
        </defs>
    <g id="c" class="rotate">
        <path class="e" d="M322.01,161c-88.92,0-161.01,72.09-161.01,161.01,0-88.92-72.08-161.01-161-161.01C88.92,161,161,88.92,161,0c0,88.92,72.09,161,161.01,161Z"/>
    </g>
</svg>

Pretty neat, eh? ๐Ÿ˜€

Let's build one of our own...

Get SVG from unDraw

You don't have to create a graphic from scratch, although that's a fun option too if you're so inclined!

One of my favorite places to get free, open-sourced illustrations in .svg or .png format is unDraw. We'll be using one of their illustrations for our example file.

When you select an image on unDraw, you'll be able to change it's color as well as select the download format.

Screen Shot 2022-09-06 at 1.49.33 PM.png

I'm going to use the Blooming illustration.

If you search "flower", it should pop up easily for you. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Screen Shot 2022-09-06 at 1.47.03 PM.png

Edit the SVG

Once you've downloaded the SVG, open it up in your code editor of choice. I use VSCode, but any editor will do the trick.

Pro-tip: if you're so inclined, you can also open the .svg in a graphics program like Adobe Illustrator (not free) or GIMP (free) and make edits or additions graphically. Once you've done that, though, we'll want to end up looking at the actual code.

I've created a folder for our example

$mkdir svg-sample

And then I've placed the svg in the folder

$ls
# blooming.svg

This makes it simple to open in VSCode

$code .

Once in VSCode, though, you'll be confronted with an impenetrable wall of text when you open the .svg file.

Screen Shot 2022-09-06 at 1.56.33 PM.png

Take heart! ๐Ÿ’š

We'll just need to clean up the code a bit to make examination easier.

SVG Elements

As always, MDN is an incredible resource for information. The documentation on SVGs is immense, and I encourage you to dig deeper on your own.

As we examine our code, we can see that is made up of several elements: <svg>, <path>, <rect>, <polygon>, <circle>, and <g>

The first thing we'll do is get things a little more readable so we can decipher what's what and manipulate certain elements.

Clean Up

In VSCode, SHIFT + CMD + L will select all occurrences of the highlighted text, so I will select all the beginning of all the various elements, backspace to the start of them, and hit RETURN to get all of them at the start of a line:

svg vscode.gif

Now we can begin to see what's going on a little easier.

Experimentation

In simple SVGs, you may have only one or two elements. This makes it simple to label and apply styling to. However, in our example, there are many elements and nothing to let us know what is what.

By poking around with some styling, we can figure out what is what. The shapes themselves will tell us a little, but by applying a fill color to different things, we can then label everything in our SVG code.

I'm using the Live Server extension in VSCode, so I'm able to see the effects of changes instantly by opening the file while I'm making the styling edits.

You can see in the screenshot below that the first path in the .svg is the path for the woman's right hand in the illustration.

Screen Shot 2022-09-06 at 2.31.17 PM.png

SVG Elements

We start out with the <svg> element itself. This is a container element and sets up the coordinate system. Think of it as our canvas where the rest of the graphics will live.

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width="598.25299" 
height="581.49793" 
viewBox="0 0 598.25299 581.49793" 
xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">

Then, we go straight into the paths, polygons, rectangles and circles. All of the following code blocks are individual pieces of the illustration. I've made note of which piece is which in the comments:

<!-- right hand -->
<path id="uuid-207e1ec5-f316-41d7-bdda-8b0dd0a2bd60-198" 
d="M317.37575,441.36116c-8.89671,1.36364-15.40463,7.05944-14.53588,12.72122,.86876,5.66178,8.78434,9.14461,17.68405,7.7793,3.56255-.49662,6.95436-1.83918,9.89166-3.91538l37.62277-6.25382-2.511-14.87153-37.53792,5.31177c-3.42552-1.10114-7.06497-1.36572-10.61369-.77157Z" 
fill="#ffb6b6"/>
<!-- right sleeve -->
<polygon points="479.50058 395.00508 464.91227 425.96119 391.57489 450.64909 330.71947 453.89578 329.19546 439.2792 395.14843 425.48908 462.82463 393.50814 479.50058 395.00508" 
fill="#e6e6e6"/>
<!-- middle flower stem  -->
<rect  x="313.0222" 
y="330.24459" 
width="2.0005" 
height="173.77644" 
transform="translate(-9.1013 7.00975) rotate(-1.26066)"/>
<!-- flower center on middle flower -->
<circle class="flower" 
cx="314.6595" 
cy="306.0531" 
r="21.23894" 
fill="#3f3d56"/>

In this manner, you will be able to go through and label any part of the illustration that you need to use in your animations.

Full Example Animation

Now, look at the full example below. I've made the graphic quite lively to show how you can make an illustration come to life with some basic css.

All of this can be achieved by writing the css in a <style> section directly within the .svg file itself.

Writing the css into the .svg file itself was actually very important for our GitHub README use case. This is what allows us to have the animated .svg rendered in our markdown file on GitHub.

Piece by Piece

There is not a lot of complicated things going on here, tbh. The most difficult part in this example was simply going through each of the .svg elements to label all the parts.

From there, I built a spinning animation for the flower petals. One clockwise and one counterclockwise:

.spin{
    transform-box:fill-box;
    transform-origin:center;
    animation:spin 7s infinite linear;
}
.spin-counter{
    transform-box:fill-box;
    transform-origin:center;
    animation:spin-counter 7s infinite linear;
}
@keyframes spin{
    0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
    100%{transform:rotate(359deg)}
}
@keyframes spin-counter{
    0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
    100%{transform:rotate(-359deg)}
}

Then I found the code for those petals and added class="spin". They were the most lengthy elements in this file.

Screen Shot 2022-09-06 at 9.05.19 PM.png

Similarly, I animated the flower stems and leaves to flash and the center of the flowers to scale up and down while changing colors.

.flash{
    animation:flash .2s infinite steps(5,jump-none);
}
.flower{
    transform-box:fill-box;
    transform-origin:center;
    animation:flower 4s infinite ease-in-out;
}
@keyframes flash{
    0%{fill:yellow}
    20%{fill:pink}
    40%{fill:blue}
    60%{fill:orange}
    80%{fill:red}
    100%{fill:purple}
}
@keyframes flower{
    0%{
        transform:scale(1.0);
        fill:#3f3d56;
    }
    50%{
        transform:scale(1.3);
        fill: yellow;
    }
    100%{
        transform:scale(1.0);
        fill: #3f3d56;
    }
}

But, we're not limited to harsh, obvious animations. I tried to mimic a slight breeze through the woman's hair by adding a very slight rotation with ease-in-out to it:

.hair{
    transform-box:fill-box;
    transform-origin:top-left;
    animation:hair 3s infinite ease-in-out;
}
@keyframes hair{
    0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
    50%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
    100%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
}

And similarly, for her foot...a little tapping by doing this:

.tap{
    transform-box:fill-box;
    transform-origin:right;
    animation:tap 1.3s infinite cubic-bezier(.2,1.4,.7,2);
}
@keyframes tap{
    0%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
    50%{transform:rotate(-5deg)}
    100%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
}

The Full Code

There are other ways to put an .svg on a website. For instance, you can insert the element directly into the html and then move all your styling to a separate css file.

This makes things cleaner, but we focused on having everything together for our project today. This way, you can simply upload the .svg to your GitHub project and then throw it into your README like you would any other picture

![svg-animation](<path-to-svg>)

Here is the full code file with everything within the .svg:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width="598.25299" height="581.49793" viewBox="0 0 598.25299 581.49793" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">

<style>
    .flash{
        animation:flash .2s infinite steps(5,jump-none);
    }
    .spin{
        transform-box:fill-box;
        transform-origin:center;
        animation:spin 7s infinite linear;
    }
    .spin-counter{
        transform-box:fill-box;
        transform-origin:center;
        animation:spin-counter 7s infinite linear;
    }
    .flower{
        transform-box:fill-box;
        transform-origin:center;
        animation:flower 4s infinite ease-in-out;
    }
    .hair{
        transform-box:fill-box;
        transform-origin:top-left;
        animation:hair 3s infinite ease-in-out;
    }
    .tap{
        transform-box:fill-box;
        transform-origin:right;
        animation:tap 1.3s infinite cubic-bezier(.2,1.4,.7,2);
    }
    @keyframes flash{
        0%{fill:yellow}
        20%{fill:pink}
        40%{fill:blue}
        60%{fill:orange}
        80%{fill:red}
        100%{fill:purple}
    }
    @keyframes spin{
        0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
        100%{transform:rotate(359deg)}
    }
    @keyframes spin-counter{
        0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
        100%{transform:rotate(-359deg)}
    }
    @keyframes flower{
        0%{
            transform:scale(1.0);
            fill:#3f3d56;
        }
        50%{
            transform:scale(1.3);
            fill: yellow;
        }
        100%{
            transform:scale(1.0);
            fill: #3f3d56;
        }
    }
    @keyframes hair{
        0%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
        50%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
        100%{transform:rotate(0deg)}
    }
    @keyframes tap{
        0%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
        50%{transform:rotate(-5deg)}
        100%{transform:rotate(-2deg)}
    }
</style>

<!-- right hand -->
<path id="uuid-207e1ec5-f316-41d7-bdda-8b0dd0a2bd60-198" d="M317.37575,441.36116c-8.89671,1.36364-15.40463,7.05944-14.53588,12.72122,.86876,5.66178,8.78434,9.14461,17.68405,7.7793,3.56255-.49662,6.95436-1.83918,9.89166-3.91538l37.62277-6.25382-2.511-14.87153-37.53792,5.31177c-3.42552-1.10114-7.06497-1.36572-10.61369-.77157Z" fill="#ffb6b6"/>

<!-- right sleeve -->
<polygon points="479.50058 395.00508 464.91227 425.96119 391.57489 450.64909 330.71947 453.89578 329.19546 439.2792 395.14843 425.48908 462.82463 393.50814 479.50058 395.00508" fill="#e6e6e6"/>

<!-- middle flower -->
<g class="flash">

<!-- middle flower stem  -->
<rect  x="313.0222" y="330.24459" width="2.0005" height="173.77644" transform="translate(-9.1013 7.00975) rotate(-1.26066)"/>

<path  d="M313.1538,407.16797c-.18115-.61621-4.32715-15.26855,4.65088-29.6709l1.69727,1.05859c-8.48975,13.61816-4.47021,27.90723-4.42871,28.05078l-1.91943,.56152Z" />

<path d="M318.50651,378.60915s-2.72937-18.65506,22.41425-23.77492c5.23825-1.06664,10.16278-1.79561,14.67694-2.28132,5.32851-.57333,7.40701,6.72083,2.59337,9.0768-6.97123,3.41197-13.52893,7.71085-16.94694,12.80161-9.42681,14.04022-22.73764,4.17784-22.73764,4.17784Z"/>

<path d="M315.74023,461.11523l-1.91943-.56152c.0415-.14355,4.06104-14.43262-4.42871-28.05078l1.69727-1.05859c8.97803,14.40234,4.83203,29.05469,4.65088,29.6709Z"/>

<path d="M310.3877,432.55605s2.72937-18.65506-22.41425-23.77492c-5.23825-1.06664-10.16278-1.79561-14.67694-2.28132-5.32851-.57333-7.40701,6.72083-2.59337,9.0768,6.97123,3.41197,13.52893,7.71085,16.94694,12.80161,9.42681,14.04022,22.73764,4.17784,22.73764,4.17784Z"/>

<!-- flower petals on middle -->
<path class="spin" d="M345.38308,306.12152c5.06107-1.33443,9.79382-3.65962,9.63686-5.95984-.18646-2.73252-7.21292-4.56342-13.27465-4.84202,4.57215-3.57699,8.77317-8.52168,7.48846-10.75799-1.1811-2.05594-6.67554-1.25956-11.74486,.5512,2.99995-4.28898,5.10906-9.12193,3.50282-10.77588-2.00087-2.06027-9.10218,1.49577-13.9485,5.42651,.94344-6.1237,.46649-13.8534-2.2801-14.55274-2.29776-.58506-5.55432,3.91139-7.78706,8.80952-.98679-5.1402-2.98444-10.02026-5.29-10.02026-3.28439,0-5.9469,9.9025-5.9469,16.35398,0,.36468,.00967,.70797,.02632,1.03597-.32965-.38218-.70745-.78145-1.1383-1.19988-4.62815-4.49466-13.58691-9.48355-15.8751-7.12744-1.60625,1.65395,.50287,6.4869,3.50282,10.77588-5.06932-1.81075-10.56375-2.60714-11.74486-.5512-1.58701,2.76251,5.19664,9.65864,10.71068,13.00291-.33147-.03993-.67971-.07355-1.05033-.09883-6.4365-.43917-16.49728,1.54306-16.72087,4.81983-.15696,2.30022,4.57578,4.62541,9.63686,5.95984-5.03878,1.89411-9.74642,4.83707-9.31913,7.16931,.51858,2.8306,8.42853,3.82148,14.64789,3.24148-4.64633,4.4579-9.68446,12.44383-7.5819,14.78429,1.54078,1.71511,6.50608-.06012,10.98934-2.76114-2.15166,4.93429-3.32024,10.36176-1.34945,11.68009,2.60449,1.74223,9.74743-4.32147,13.51348-9.53904-.38374,6.38314,1.14359,15.15229,4.17408,15.49836,2.29068,.2616,4.82911-4.36033,6.39273-9.35537,1.66258,5.11982,4.38795,9.95671,6.73724,9.63613,3.05486-.41687,4.38668-9.40546,3.81684-15.79319,3.88469,5.00287,10.42248,10.35339,12.88884,8.70356,1.9708-1.31833,.80222-6.7458-1.34945-11.68009,4.48325,2.70102,9.44855,4.47625,10.98934,2.76114,2.10256-2.34046-2.93557-10.3264-7.5819-14.78429,6.21936,.58,14.12931-.41088,14.64789-3.24148,.42729-2.33224-4.28035-5.2752-9.31913-7.16931Zm-27.25118,18.05535c-1.30094,.17752-2.49049,.43103-3.39512,1.07838-.96104-.95404-2.3647-1.2446-3.92539-1.42282-1.74749-.19956-3.33551-.21882-4.54651,.78962-.44311-1.23164-1.53269-2.1066-2.80192-2.95564-1.09135-.73004-2.14972-1.3293-3.2561-1.44485-.08644-1.35139-.94416-2.4999-1.99392-3.66846-.66934-.7451-1.33902-1.41125-2.08213-1.85683,1.07214-1.3054,.94852-2.9553,.61679-4.76601-.2366-1.2915-.54407-2.46827-1.23197-3.34246,.90927-1.00353,1.13558-2.41899,1.24252-3.98616,.11675-1.7112,.06824-3.26269-.91948-4.41797,2.55254,.32468,3.78435-1.26552,4.92929-3.25854,.65405-1.13848,1.17989-2.23522,1.21986-3.3469,1.34239-.17824,2.42983-1.11217,3.52418-2.23903,.93486-.96262,1.73007-1.91578,2.02877-3.01283,1.0712,.90022,2.53281,1.03646,4.14527,1.03646,1.57083,0,2.99839-.12942,4.06148-.96827,.82534,.7458,1.97845,1.13265,3.25084,1.45663,1.21463,.30928,2.36117,.51612,3.4036,.30795,.38052,.86931,1.05707,1.65872,1.82981,2.4544,1.09435,1.12687,2.18179,2.06079,3.52418,2.23903,.03998,1.11167,.56582,2.20841,1.21986,3.3469,.76989,1.34014,1.57848,2.49889,2.80151,3.01589-.1428,.77844-.12753,1.63528-.06603,2.53672,.10695,1.56718,.33326,2.98266,1.24252,3.98616-.68791,.87419-.99537,2.05096-1.23197,3.34246-.33173,1.8107-.45535,3.46061,.61679,4.76601-.7431,.44557-1.41278,1.11173-2.08213,1.85683-1.04976,1.16856-1.90749,2.31707-1.99392,3.66846-1.10638,.11555-2.16475,.71482-3.2561,1.44485-1.49056,.99708-2.73218,2.03061-2.97065,3.63515-1.11854-.54256-2.45752-.47248-3.90393-.27513Z" fill="#ff6863"/>

<!-- flower center on middle flower -->
<circle class="flower" cx="314.6595" cy="306.0531" r="21.23894" fill="#3f3d56"/></g>

<!-- ground -->
<path d="M58.50921,563.59732c0,.66003,.53003,1.19,1.19006,1.19H581.98925c.65997,0,1.19-.52997,1.19-1.19,0-.65997-.53003-1.19-1.19-1.19H59.69927c-.66003,0-1.19006,.53003-1.19006,1.19Z" fill="#3f3d56"/>

<!-- right leg skin -->
<polygon points="344.23894 512.546 331.14162 545.67451 314.19215 534.11806 324.20774 499.44869 344.23894 512.546" fill="#ffb6b6"/>

<!-- left leg skin -->
<polygon points="289.53838 500.21912 254.86901 533.34763 268.73676 547.9858 304.17655 520.25031 289.53838 500.21912" fill="#ffb6b6"/>

<!-- back of hair -->
<polygon points="485.99813 392.35886 485.61291 389.66236 476.75296 372.32767 447.47661 380.03198 452.86962 403.91532 485.99813 392.35886" fill="#ffb6b6"/>

<!-- skirt right leg-->
<path  d="M473.67124,507.92342l.90036,11.57162s3.72223,48.52195-26.32456,52.3741c-30.04679,3.85215-43.1441,7.7043-60.864-22.34248l-27.73549-49.30754-16.20027,19.27593-21.55082-16.96463s15.40861-60.09357,27.73549-62.40486c1.54086-.28891,3.08172-.43337,4.59851-.46497,10.20508-.21261,19.82492,4.77897,25.93085,12.95861l34.95723,46.82949,12.7121-5.77823,45.84061,14.25296Z" fill="#2f2e41"/>

<!-- right foot -->
<path d="M307.25828,544.13365l6.93387-13.09732,20.03119,13.86775s4.62258,16.94947-2.31129,19.26076c-6.93387,2.31129-26.19463-.77043-26.19463-.77043,0,0-35.4398,7.7043-36.21023,.77043s16.17904-8.47473,16.17904-8.47473l21.57205-11.55646Z" fill="#2f2e41"/>

<!-- skirt left leg -->
<path d="M382.76045,534.88849l-53.54491-33.73818-27.35028,24.49301-18.49033-21.57205s33.89894-50.07798,43.91453-52.38927,26.19463-3.85215,26.19463-3.85215l49.30754,45.45539-20.03119,41.60324Z" fill="#2f2e41"/>

<!-- left foot -->
<path class="tap" d="M254.09858,530.2659l17.7199,19.26076-2.33678,1.99887s-4.59709,20.02209-15.38312,13.24898c-10.78603-6.77311-11.55646-8.31398-11.55646-8.31398,0,0-30.81722,6.93387-33.89894-5.39301-3.08172-12.32689,5.39301-10.0156,5.39301-10.0156l7.6952,4.62258,32.36718-15.40861Z" fill="#2f2e41"/>

<!-- face -->
<circle  cx="456.72177" cy="363.85294" r="24.65377" fill="#ffb6b6"/>

<!-- chest -->
<path  d="M450.94354,398.90752l35.4398-10.78603s13.86775,32.35808,11.55646,46.99625c-2.31129,14.63818-23.3682,84.37729-23.3682,84.37729l-46.74096-25.82458s-.77043-15.40861-3.08172-22.34248-9.63038-28.12071,6.54866-45.84061c16.17904-17.7199,19.64597-26.57985,19.64597-26.57985Z" fill="#e6e6e6"/>

<!-- big flower -->
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Thanks for Reading! ๐Ÿ™

I love tweaking illustrations like this and making them animated. A little animation goes a long way.

I hope this has been helpful and fun for you to learn about as well!

Come say hey ๐Ÿ‘‹ and let me know if you add an animated .svg to your GitHub; you can find me on Twitter: twitter.com/EamonnCottrell

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