How to Make a Radar Scanner Animation in CSS (Using pseudo-elements)

✔︎ Last updated on September 29th, 2022

In this article, I will explain (step by step) how you can make the radar scanner animation in CSS without using any JavaScript.

At the end of this tutorial, I have also added a Codepen block with complete code so that you can play around with it.

I strongly suggest you open a new Codepen and follow along with this tutorial.

Let’s begin.

Set up the stage

Radar Scanner animation outline

In the animation above, we have 4 elements –

  1. Green scanner
  2. Outer circle (with a shadow)
  3. Two waves that ripple out from the outer circle

This will be my HTML code for this project.

HTML
<div class="outer-circle">
	<div class="green-scanner"></div>
</div>

You should notice that I haven’t created any HTML element to represent the two waves. That’s because I will use pseudo-elements for this purpose.

Now let’s come to the CSS part.

Design the Outer Circle

Let’s style the outer circle first. I will apply the following properties to it –

  1. Set its width and height equal to 240px (Equal because it will become a circle).
  2. Give it a border-radius of 50% (to make it a perfect circle).
  3. Give it a box-shadow so that it doesn’t look flat on the page. A little shadow will give it a 3-d look.

Here’s my CSS code for the .outer-circle

CSS
.outer-circle {
    /* 	design the circle */
    width: 240px;
    height: 240px;
    border-radius: 50%;
    box-shadow: 0 0 8px 0 #aaa;
}

And here’s my output –

How to Make a Radar Scanner Animation in CSS (Using pseudo-elements)

Design the Inner Green-scanner

Now let’s design the .green-scanner element. I will apply the following styles to this element —

  • I will give it equal width and height of 200px (which is 40px smaller than its parent .outer-circle).
  • I will give it a border-radius of 50%.
  • I will paint its background using conic-gradient.

Here’s our code for .green-scanner element –

CSS
.green-scanner {
    width: 200px;
    height: 200px;
    border-radius: 50%;
    background: conic-gradient(#00ff0055, #00ff00);
}

And here’s our output —

How to Make a Radar Scanner Animation in CSS (Using pseudo-elements)

I have chosen conic-gradient function because it paints the background in a circular fashion (as if sweeping from a center point). Had we chosen radial-gradient, we would have gotten this —

How to Make a Radar Scanner Animation in CSS (Using pseudo-elements)
The radial-gradient background doesn’t look like a scanner.

It’s clear that radial-gradient doesn’t give us that radar scanning effect we are after.

With the discussion on background out of the way, let’s remedy the obvious problem here — the outer and inner (green) circle are not concentric.

Let’s use some CSS to make them concentric.

Make circles concentric

As the outer circle is 40px bigger than the green circle in width and height, all we need to center the green circle is shift it to the right and down by 20px. We can do that by writing the following lines of code —

CSS
.green-scanner {
    /* write code so far here */
    position: absolute;
    top: 20px;
    left: 20px;
}

Also, remember that to position an element as absolute, we must position its parent something other than static otherwise, the child element will be positioned relative to the body.

So, I am giving the .outer-circle position of relative.

CSS
.outer-circle {
    /* write code so far here */

    position: relative;
}

Here’s the output —

Radar scanning animation CSS (Green circle)

Better!

Now, we need two more elements that will work as waves that ripple out of this scanner.

Creating the Waves

We could have used two more HTML divs but that is not considered semantic — using HTML elements only for styling purposes.

Luckily for us, almost every element in CSS ships with two pseudo-elements (that work as its child elements). They are not present in the HTML markup but you can use them using ::before and ::after pseudo-selectors.

In styling these elements, we want the following —

  • they should perfectly overlap with the outer circle (because they are rippling out from there)

The following code should suffice —

CSS
.outer-circle::before,
.outer-circle::after {

    /* must have! Pseudo-elements don't appear if the content property is not declared */
    content: "";

    /* set dimensions equal to their parent */
    width: 100%;
    height: 100%;
    border-radius: 50%; /* make it a circle */;
    border: 1px solid #eee;
        
    /* perfectly overlap them with their parent */
    position: absolute;
}

Our final output looks like this —

How to Make a Radar Scanner Animation in CSS (Using pseudo-elements)

You cannot see the ::before and ::after pseudo-elements but they are there, overlapped on the outer circle.

Now it’s time to animate the entire thing.

Apply Animation

Now, all there remains is to write our keyframe definitions and animation properties.

For the green circle, we want it to rotate continuously. We can do that using the following lines of code —

CSS
.green-scanner {
    /* write code so far here */

    animation: scan 4s infinite linear;
}

@keyframes scan {
    to {
	transform: rotate(1turn);
    }
}

And for the ripples, we just have to scale them up.

CSS
.outer-circle::before,
.outer-circle::after {
    /* write code so far here */

    animation: ripple 2s infinite linear;
}

@keyframes ripple {
    to {
	transform: scale(2.5);
    }
}

Our animation looks like this —

You will observe that there is only one “ripple” visible in the animation.

Well, actually, both the ripples are present here but, as they are overlapping each other, they appear as one.

We need to apply animation-delay on one of the waves so that it ripples out after the first.

CSS
.outer-circle::after {
    animation-delay: 1s;
}

Our final output looks like this —

See the Pen Radar Scanning Effect by Gauri Shanker (@Gsbansal) on CodePen.

Much better!

That brings this tutorial to the conclusion.

I hope you found this article useful. If you did, please share it with your friends.

If you have any different approach or any improvement in this article, kindly drop a line in the comments.

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