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A library for generating and manipulating CSS 3D transforms


Sprite3D.js makes it easy to manipulate HTML elements in 3D space through the use of CSS 3D transforms. It allows to control the position, rotation and scale of the element using simple, chainable methods. A Sprite3D object IS an HTMLElement, so you can freely use native browser events and properties, and control their appearance through CSS directives.

When creating a Sprite3D element, you can specify an ID or class, or even provide an existing HTML element that will be 'enhanced'. Most of its added methods can then be used as getter or setter depending of the number of arguments.

Install via Bower :

bower install sprite3d


Please refer to the comments in the source code for more detailed instructions on how to use these methods.

Static methods

  • Sprite3D.isSupported() - check support for CSS 3D transforms
  • Sprite3D.stage() - create a root node to use as a main container
  • Sprite3D.create() - creates a new Sprite3D div element
  • - creates a box (i.e. a cube)

Instance methods


  • x() - get/set the x position
  • y() - get/set the y position
  • z() - get/set the z position
  • position() - set the x, y and z position
  • move() - adds the provided values to the current position


  • rotationX() - get/set the rotation around the X axis
  • rotationY() - get/set the rotation around the Y axis
  • rotationZ() - get/set the rotation around the Z axis
  • rotation() - set the rotation around all axis
  • rotate() - adds the provided values to the current rotation


  • scaleX() - get/set the scale around the X axis
  • scaleY() - get/set the scale around the Y axis
  • scaleZ() - get/set the scale around the Z axis
  • scale() - set the scale for all axis.


  • appendChild() and removeChild() - just kidding, these are the native methods of the HTML elements (and remember, the Sprite3D object IS the HTML element)

Helper functions

  • origin() - specifies the registration point of the element (default is top-left corner)
  • transformOrigin() - specifies the pivot around which the element is rotated and scaled (default is center)
  • transformString() - lets you decide the order of the transformations
  • perspective() - sets the amount of perspective (mainly useful for the stage, default is 800px)
  • css() - chainable shorthand for setting a CSS value in the style property
  • addClass() and removeClass() - chainable wrappers for the native classList.add() and classList.remove()
  • html() - chainable shorthand for the innerHTML property of the element
  • size() - chainable shorthand for setting both style.width and style.height
  • bind() and unbind() - chainable shorthand for addEventListener and removeEventListener methods, allows to pass multiple events and callbacks
  • tileSize() and tilePosition() - basic spritesheet support
  • set() - generic chainable setter/getter

Browser support

Desktop browsers

Chrome, Firefox and Safari have full support for 3D transforms.

IE 10 doesn't support nested transforms (transformed elements inside transformed elements). It means that you can't create a 3D hierarchy, making it very difficult to achieve a (even slightly) complex scene, camera movements or even a simple cube. Previous versions of IE have no support at all for transforms.

Current Opera versions don't support 3D transforms, but their switch to the WebKit/Kling rendering engine should bring them on par with other modern browsers.

Mobile browsers

The iOS browsers have very good support for 3D transformations, as well as BlackBerry's tablets and recent phones.

Chrome, Firefox and Opera on Android are OK.

The Android stock browser started supporting CSS 3D since version 4.0 (3.0 was rather limited).

Known issues

Turning an <img> into a Sprite3D in Firefox fails because of the presence of x and y properties. These properties exist for backward compatilibity with old, non-standard features.

So, instead of using an img, rather use a div with a background and you'll be fine.


Please note that the writing of this section is still in progress. You'll find answers to your questions looking at the examples provided with the library.

1 - Prepare

Transformed elements need to have their parent's transform-style property set to preserve-3d in order to appear properly tranformed. That's why it is required to have a root element (we'll call it a stage) that will contain our scene.

Creating a stage is easy thanks to the stage() method, that creates a new div, sets it up and adds it to the document's body. This is the easiest solution if we are making a full window 3D experience.

var stage = Sprite3D.stage();

The "default" stage is a blank div element absolutely positionned in the center of the page. Creating an element at position (0,0,0) will make it appear in centered. The X axis is pointing to the right, the Y axis down and the Z axis toward the camera.

Sprite3D.js allows to use an existing element as the stage, so we can have more control on the way it is presented. For instance, one could use a rectangular viewport in the middle of existing text content, set its overflow property to hidden.

var stage = Sprite3D.stage( document.querySelector("#myContainer") );

2 - Populate


We create a new Sprite3D with the create() method. We can specify an ID or className as argument, or even use an existing element. There is also a box() method, that we can use as helper function to create boxes and cubes.

As all setters are chainable, we can create most objects with one (long) line of code. Once created, we have to insert our element into the document, generally as a child of the stage or its descendants. We will do so using the native appendChild() method.

One important thing to know is that setting a Sprite3D property has no effect until we call the update() method. Methods like addClass() or size() don't need the update, because they each affect distinct CSS properties. But all the position, rotation, scale and origin properties require a call to update() because they are merged into a long string that is injected into the object's style.

The reason behind this system is performance. If we change the position AND the rotation of an element, the CSS transform property is only updated once, when we call update(), and the rendering engine does need to recompute the values two times.

Do you see something ?

Imagine we write this :

// create the stage
var stage = Sprite3D.stage();

// create a sprite object
var sprite = Sprite3D.create().position( 200, 0, -100).update();

// add the sprite to the stage

What will you see ? Nothing. Why ? Because there is no directive about how the sprite is supposed to look. One of the interest of Sprite3D is that we will use CSS code to define your visuals. Given the fact that a Sprite3D is an HTMLElement, we can keep our tools and code habits, use CSS transitions and a very little bit of Javascript to create interactive animations.

Making a cube rotate requires very few lines of code. Note that the classNames of the side of the box are automatically added by the box() method.

/* CSS */

.cube {
	border: 5px solid white;
	box-sizing: border-box;
	transition: transform .5s ease-in-out;
	/* note: might need some vendor prefixes around here :) */

.cube .front,
.cube .back {
	background: rgba(255,255,0,0.3);

.cube .left,
.cube .right {
	background: rgba(255,0,255,0.3);

.cube .top,
.cube .bottom {
	background: rgba(255,0,255,0.3);

/* JS */
var stage = Sprite3D.stage();
var cube = 100,100,100, ".cube" );

stage.appendChild( cube );

function onCubeClick(e){ Math.random() * 360 ).update();


Or we could make the Javascript part even shorter like this :

var stage = Sprite3D.stage(),
	cube = stage.appendChild(,".cube").bind("click",onCubeClick) );
function onCubeClick(e){ Math.random() * 360 ).update(); }



Sprite3D.js, a JS library for generating and manipulating CSS 3D transforms






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