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Color Gradations Using SASS Control Directives

May 21, 2014
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I came across a problem recently where I wanted to gradually change the colors of a set of list items - but without assigning a class with a color to each one. Enter SASS Control Directives (I thought these were just called functions but apparently I was wrong).

My front-end development definition of control directives is: those ifs, whiles, eaches, and fors that you use in programming to (essentially) do a bunch of repetitive tasks that you don't feel like doing manually.

How to Use the @While Loop

In the Codepen below, I use the @while directive to loop through a number of steps to assign each li:nth-child() a different background color. This way I don't have to go and add a class to each li element!

$darken-color: #0046C5; // The color you want to use
$step: 1; // Set the initial step value

//The "<= #" determines the number of steps you want this while loop to create

@while $step <=10  {

// darkens color step by step
.darken li:nth-child(#{$step}) {
    // Here we use the SASS darken function and darken our color by 2% each time.  Set this to whatever percentage you like. 
    background-color: darken($darken-color, ($step * 2%));

// Increment the step up by 1 so it continues until you've reached 10 (which you specified at the beginning of the function)
$step: $step + 1;

The output to your CSS looks like this:

.darken li:nth-child(1) {
background-color: #0042bb;

.darken li:nth-child(2) {
background-color: #003fb1;

.darken li:nth-child(3) {
background-color: #003ba6;

.darken li:nth-child(4) {
background-color: #00389c;

.darken li:nth-child(5) {
background-color: #003492;

/* Etc etc */

And you apply it to your HTML like this:

<ul class="darken">
    <li>Item 1</li>
    <li>Item 2</li>
    <li>Item 3</li>
    <li>Item 4</li> 

Here is the Codepen, with examples using the darken, transparentize, adjust-hue, and mix SASS functions.

See the Pen SASS Color Gradations by Becky Hamm (@thebeckyhamm) on CodePen.

Special thanks to Jackie Balzer's site for helping me greatly in understanding the syntax for the color functions.

Do you have other cool uses of SASS control directives?