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How to break an image out of its parent container with CSS

I have argued on several occasions that too many JavaScript developers don’t know CSS well enough, causing us to turn to JS for solutions that are better handled with CSS.

With that in mind, today I wanted to show you a technique for breaking an image out of it’s parent container using only CSS.

Breaking what now?

Let’s say you have a layout with a column of content that’s centered on the page, with some white space on either size.

Maybe there’s a max width of 40em, and you use responsive image techniques to dynamically resize the images to fit the container as well.

body {
	margin-left: auto;
	margin-right: auto;
	max-width: 40em;
	width: 88%;

img {
	height: auto;
	max-width: 100%;

Here’s an example.

That’s great, but what if you wanted one of those images to span the full width of the page?

You could use some div elements with classes to create container areas, but that can make your markup start to get complicated. Maybe there’s an easier way.

The .full-width class

This trick comes courtesy of CSS expert Una Kravets.

A simple utility class, .full-width, will break the image out of it’s parent container using some negative margins, relative positioning, and the viewport width (vw) unit of measure.

.full-width {
	left: 50%;
	margin-left: -50vw;
	margin-right: -50vw;
	max-width: 100vw;
	position: relative;
	right: 50%;
	width: 100vw;

Add it to your image, and the CSS handles the rest.

<img class="full-width" src="">

Here’s a demo of it in action.

Browser Compatibility

This technique works in all browsers that support the vw unit, so… all modern browsers, and IE11 and up.