W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2016

Re: [css-images][svg2] gradient rendering and the image-rendering property

From: Simon Fraser <smfr@me.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2016 09:43:44 -0800
Cc: "www-style@w3.org list" <www-style@w3.org>, www-svg <www-svg@w3.org>
Message-id: <92B8A63E-E42D-4047-8552-53FBC239774A@me.com>
To: Amelia Bellamy-Royds <amelia.bellamy.royds@gmail.com>
> On Feb 2, 2016, at 7:11 pm, Amelia Bellamy-Royds <amelia.bellamy.royds@gmail.com> wrote:
> A discussion at the joint SVG/CSS face-to-face meeting centered on gradient quality, and whether features such as dithering could be supported (or required) to address banding in gradients. 
> I brought up that there are already cross-browser inconsistencies in whether colors are anti-aliased when gradients have sharp transitions (color stops at the same offset value to create stripes), and pointed out that anti-aliasing looks better on diagonal stripes but can look fuzzy on horizontal/vertical stripes.  Someone suggested I write up a proposal.  I initially avoided an action, but after discussion moved on I realized that this is essentially the same issue as the image-rendering properties: sometimes you want smooth interpolation, and sometimes you want crisp edges.
> So, the basic proposal is as follows: make the image-rendering property apply to gradient images, including CSS and SVG gradients for an element.  Add the proposed "smooth" value to distinguish from "auto", and make the definitions for each value as follows:
> auto <https://drafts.csswg.org/css-images-3/#valdef-image-rendering-auto>
> The image or gradient should be rendered with an algorithm that balances a smooth appearance with performance.
> smooth
> The image or gradient should be rendered in such a way that pixilation effects are minimized. In particular, image scaling should smoothly interpolate color transitions, such as by using bilinear interpolation. This is intended for images such as photos.  Gradient rendering should use anti-aliasing on sharp color transitions and may use dithering or similar effects to minimize banding when the color depth of the display cannot create an even color transition.
> crisp-edges <https://drafts.csswg.org/css-images-3/#valdef-image-rendering-crisp-edges>
> The image or gradient should be rendered in a way that preserves contrast and edges in the image.  Images should be scaled with algorithms that do not smooth colors or introduce blur to the image in the process. This is intended for images such as pixel art.  Gradient rendering may (or should?) nonetheless use anti-aliasing to create clean diagonal lines.
> pixelated <https://drafts.csswg.org/css-images-3/#valdef-image-rendering-pixelated>
> Images must be scaled with the "nearest neighbor" or similar algorithm, to preserve a "pixelated" look as the image changes in size. Gradients should not use anti-aliasing or dithering.
> Some additional complications:
> For SVG paint servers, should the value in effect on the paint server element be used, or the value in effect on the painted shape?  I think consistency with other *-rendering properties (e.g. for color) is to use the value on the gradient element itself.  Alternatively, the "auto" behavior on a shape could be to use the behavior on the gradient, but a different value on the shape could override it. 
> Should you be able to set different rendering hints on different layers of CSS backgrounds (e.g. to have a smooth gradient overtop of a crisp-edges stripe)?  E.g., with a background-image-rendering property that takes a list of values?  If so, probably also want to introduce equivalent properties for layered SVG fill and stroke paint.
> For existing SVG content, there may be backwards compatibility issues.  E.g., if image-rendering is set on the <svg> element itself with the expectation that it would only affect <image> elements, but now it also affects gradients.  Not sure if this would break anything badly.
> If people are worried about backwards compatibility, an alternative would be to create a distinct `gradient-rendering` property.  If so, I would want `gradient-rendering` to use the same values as `image-rendering` as described above, so authors would only have to memorize one set of keywords.

This is an interesting proposal, and goes nicely hand-in-hand with image-rendering as applied to images.

However, in WebKit, gradient rendering is supplied by the underlying graphics framework (CoreGraphics), and we don’t have the knobs to tune to control how gradient rendering behaves. My preference would be that gradient rendering just looks good everywhere.

If we did have a “high quality” option that is more expensive (perhaps it does dithering), then I can see a “smooth” value being useful, but I think the spec is going to have to allow UAs to continue to do what they do now.


Received on Wednesday, 17 February 2016 17:44:22 UTC

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