Decoded Chats – Una Kravets on filters and blend modes in browsers

una kravets

Una Kravets (@una on Twitter) is an UI engineer at @digitalocean and a community builder, technical writer & cohost of @toolsday. She previously worked at @ibmdesign and posts her travels on Instagram. You can find her on the web at She loves art and creating it by using clever blending options and filters in browsers. We caught up with her live at SmashingConf in Freiburg to talk about exactly that.

If you prefer to have an audio version, you can download it here (MP3, 18MB)

Here are the questions we asked:

  1. Filters and blend modes, what are the main issues with those? Are they too cryptic? Too complex?
  2. Aren’t we catching up with what Flash provided? Is there a chance to re-use some of that knowledge from that scene?
  3. Aren’t filters a performance issue? The work well on desktop, but what about mobile?
  4. SVG had a lot of filters before CSS. What are the reasons that people don’t use them as much?
  5. An image with lots of filters applied can’t get saved by the user as-is on screen. A greyscaled JPG is smaller than a JPG with a desaturate filter. Would it make more sense to use image packages or headless browsers to create static images?
  6. Blend modes have been implemented in a faulty manner in the past and there are differences in how browers support them. How responsive do you find browser makers to bug reports?
  7. The dynamic nature of the web can be a challenge for an artistic person as often you need to give up granular control. Do you see that as a problem or an opportunity?
  8. You created a CSS library that used filters to simulate in the browser what Instagram does to photos. Is that something people use or is it mostly for demo purposes?
  9. There’s a joke that the future skill of colouring old black and white photos of today will be removing filters from photos. Is this becoming a cliché?
  10. Are there any easy resources to use to learn about filters and blend modes?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *