Optimizing SVG Images for Dark Mode: Inverting Colors with CSS and JavaScript


Understanding the problem

If you've ever tried to display SVG images with transparent backgrounds in dark mode, you might have noticed that they become invisible. This is because the background color of the page is dark, making the SVG image blend in.

The easiest solution for this is to use a background, but if it's light, it can be very bright for people who use dark mode. In this article, we'll explore a better solution to this problem: inverting the colors of the SVG image when the theme changes.

Prepare your CSS

In the global CSS file (e.g., style.css), create a CSS variable with the initial value of none for the light theme. The name of the CSS variable goes after -- I called it svg-invert-filter:

:root { --svg-invert-filter: none; }

:root pseudo-class represents the root element in the DOM tree which is technically the html element but with higher specificity.

Let's apply the CSS variable to the filter property in the same CSS file:

article svg { filter: var(--svg-invert-filter); }

In this example, I only want to invert the colors of SVG images inside blog posts, so I put the article selector in front of svg. The var() function here inserts the value of our CSS variable.

Add some JavaScript

We need to create a helper function that updates the CSS variable based on the current theme value. If theme is light CSS variable is none, if theme is dark we apply invert() and hue-rotate() functions to the filter property.


const themes = { light: { svgInvertFilter: "none", }, dark: { svgInvertFilter: "invert(93%) hue-rotate(180deg)", }, }; export const invertSvg = (theme) => { document.body.style.setProperty( "--svg-invert-filter", themes[theme].svgInvertFilter ); };

Provided values works well for inverting the colors of SVG images because the invert(93%) flips the color scheme of the image while the hue-rotate(180deg) function shifts the colors by 180 degrees, ensuring that the resulting image has a natural look and is easily recognizable. However, these values may need to be adjusted depending on the specific colors and shades used in the SVG image.

Trigger the function

We use the useEffect() react hook on the page that triggers this function when the theme changes.


import { invertSvg } from "../helper"; export default function Page() { const { theme } = useTheme(); useEffect(() => { invertSvg(theme); }, [theme]); // ... rest of you page's code ... }

That's it.

Look at the result

Inverting colors technique is simple to implement and helps to make sure that our SVG images remain visible regardless of the theme that your users prefer.

You can see an example of this technique in action by visiting my blog post titled «How to Find a Duplicate in an Array of Positive Numbers with Constant Space Complexity», where I have used it to invert the colors of the SVG images in dark mode.

Thank you for your time! Please follow me on twitter, and if you have a question, feel free to ask.

Additional resources for learning

Main page