How To Style Images With CSS

Published on October 12, 2020

Senior Manager, DevEd

How To Style Images With CSS


In this tutorial, you will learn how to style images with CSS to add a border, and change the shape, and size of the image. Using CSS to style images allows you to uniformly specify how images should appear across your website with only a few rulesets.


To follow this tutorial, make sure you have set up the necessary files and folders as instructed in a previous tutorial in this series How To Set Up You CSS and HTML Practice Project.

Adding Images To index.html

First, you need to add an image to the images folder. You can download the image from the demonstration website or use any image in a JPEG/JPG or PNG format. This exercise will also work better if the dimensions of your image are around 150-200 pixels by 150-200 pixels.

Note: To download the image of Sammy the Shark, visit this link and CTRL + Left Click (on Macs) or Right Click (on Windows) on the image and select “Save Image As” and save it as small-profile.jpeg to your images folder.

Once you have selected an image, save it to your images folder as small-profile.jpeg. If you save it as a different file name, you’ll need to modify the image file path in the step below.

Next, erase all the content in your index.html file (except for the first line of code: <link rel="stylesheet" href="css/styles.css">) and add the following code snippet:

<img src="images/small-profile.jpeg" alt="Sammy the Shark, DigitalOcean’s mascot"> 

This code snippet uses the <img> tag to insert an image and gives the browser the location of the image file (images/small-profile.jpeg). Make sure the highlighted file path is correct if you have changed the file name of your image.

Note: To copy the file path of your image using Visual Studio Code, hover over the icon of the image file in the left-hand panel, click CTRL + Left Click (on Macs) or Right Click (on Windows), and select “Copy Path.” For an illustration of the process, please see the gif below:

Gif of how to copy an image file path

Make sure to copy the relative or project file path of the image rather than the absolute or full file path of the image. The relative path refers to the file location relative to the current working directory (as opposed to the absolute path, which refers to the file location relative to the root directory.) While both paths will work in this instance, only the relative path would work if you decided to publish the website online. Since the end goal is to create a publishable website, you will start using relative paths now when adding <img> elements to the document.

You have also added the alternative text Sammy the Shark, DigitalOcean’s mascot using the alt attribute. When creating websites, alternative text should be added to all images to support site accessibility for individuals who use screen readers. To read more about using alternative text with HTML, please visit the section on alternative text in our guide How To Add Images To Your Webpage Using HTML.

Save your index.html file and reload it in your browser. (For instructions on loading an HTML file, please visit our tutorial step How To View An Offline HTML File In Your Browser). You should receive a blank page with your image displayed:

Small profile image displayed in browser

If your image doesn’t display, check your code for errors and confirm that you have the correct file path for the image.

Adding Styles To Images

Now that index.html displays an image of Sammy the Shark (or the image of your choice), you’ll add a CSS rule to style the image. In your styles.css file, erase everything (if you’ve been following along the tutorial series) and add the following ruleset at the bottom of the document:

. . .
img {
  border: 2px solid red;
  border-radius: 8px;
  width: 200px;

Save your styles.css file and reload your index.html file in your browser. You should now receive an image with new style properties:

Webpage with styled small profile image

In this CSS rule, you have specified values for three different properties of the HTML <img> element. Let’s pause to examine each of the different properties and values:

  • The border property allows you to add a border to your image and specify the size, style, and color of the border. Notice that you can add multiple values for this CSS property. In this rule, you have specified a solid, red border with a width of 2px.

  • The border-radius property defines the radius of an element’s corners, allowing you to round the edges of an element. In this rule, you have specified 8 pixels as the size of the radius. Try changing this number to see how it affects the display of the image.

  • The width property defines the width of the image. In this rule, you have specified the width to be 200 pixels wide. Note that if you leave the height undefined, the height of the image will automatically adjust to maintain the original proportions of the image. Try changing both the height and width at the same time to check what happens.

Exploring How Style is Applied To All Images

Note that if you add any additional images to your HTML document, they will also have the same styling. To study how this works, add a second image to your index.html file using the HTML <img> element. (You can copy and paste the first <img> element if you don’t have a second image handy):

<img src="images/small-profile.jpeg" alt="Sammy the Shark, DigitalOcean’s mascot"> 
<img src="images/small-profile.jpeg" alt="Sammy the Shark, DigitalOcean’s mascot"> 

Make sure to change the highlighted section with your image file path. Save your index.html file and load it in the browser. Your webpage should display two images styled with the same CSS ruleset for the <img> tag:

Webpage displaying two images with the same style

To continue exploring style possibilities for images, try changing the values in the CSS rule you just created in the styles.css file, saving the file, and reloading the index.html to check the results.


In this tutorial you explored how to style an image’s border size, color, appearance, height, width, and border radius. You will return to image styling when you begin building the demonstration website in the second half of this tutorial series.

Now that you are familiar with how to apply a set of style rules to all <img> elements, you may be curious how to apply different style rules to individual or groups of <img> elements. In the next tutorial, you will create CSS classes, which allow developers to sort HTML elements into different classes for different CSS styling.

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Learn more about us

Tutorial Series: How To Build a Website With CSS

This tutorial is part of a series on creating and customizing this website with CSS, a stylesheet language used to control the presentation of websites. You may follow the entire series to recreate the demonstration website and gain familiarity with CSS or use the methods described here for other CSS website projects.

Before proceeding, we recommend that you have some knowledge of HTML, the standard markup language used to display documents in a web browser. If you don’t have familiarity with HTML, you can follow the first ten tutorials of our series How To Build a Website With HTML before starting this series.

About the authors
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Senior Manager, DevEd

Open source advocate and lover of education, culture, and community.

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