Filter Effects
Filter Effects Module Level 1
Wood texture and drop shadow simulated with SVG filters
StatusWorking Draft (WD)
Year started15 October 2012 (2012-10-15)
First published15 October 2012 (2012-10-15)
Latest versionDecember 18, 2018 (2018-12-18)
Preview versionEditor's Draft
October 30, 2019 (2019-10-30)
CommitteeCSS Working Group
  • Dirk Schulze
  • Dean Jackson
  • Vincent Hardy
  • Erik Dahlström
DomainVisual effects

SVG filter effects are effects applied to Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files. SVG is an open-standard XML format for two-dimensional vector graphics as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A filter effect consists of a series of graphics operations that are applied to a given source vector graphic to produce a modified bitmapped result.

Filter effects are defined by filter elements. The filter property is set on a container element or on a graphics element to apply a filter effect to it. Each filter element contains a set of filter primitives as its children. Each filter primitive performs a single fundamental graphical operation (e.g., a Gaussian blur or a lighting effect) on one or more inputs, producing a graphical result. Because most of the filter primitives represent some form of image processing, in most cases the output from a filter primitive is a single RGBA bitmap image (however, it will be regenerated if a higher resolution is called on).

The original source graphic or the result from a filter primitive can be used as input into one or more other filter primitives. A common application is to use the source graphic multiple times. For example, a simple filter could replace one graphic for two by adding a black copy of the original source graphic but offset to create a drop shadow. In effect, there are now two layers of graphics, both with the same original source graphics.

SVG filter primitives

Example SVG using various filter primitives
Textures: feTurbulence, feDiffuseLighting, feDistantLight, feComposite and feBlend
Shadows: feGaussianBlur, feOffset, feColorMatrix and feBlend
Demonstration of an animated refraction effect using feTurbulence, feDisplacementMap and Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language

The following table lists the filter primitives available in both SVG 1.0 and SVG 1.1. SVG Tiny does not support filter effects, while SVG Basic supports only those filter primitives shown:

Name Element SVG Basic
Blend feBlend Yes
Color matrix feColorMatrix Yes
Component transfer feComponentTransfer Yes
Composite feComposite Yes
Convolve matrix feConvolveMatrix No
Diffuse lighting feDiffuseLighting No
Displacement map feDisplacementMap No
Flood feFlood Yes
Gaussian blur feGaussianBlur Yes
Image feImage Yes
Merge feMerge Yes
Morphology feMorphology No
Offset feOffset Yes
Specular lighting feSpecularLighting No
Tile feTile Yes
Turbulence feTurbulence No

The current draft of the Filter Effects Module Level 1 adds a filter primitive for drop shadow. This primitive, feDropShadow, is just a shorthand for a combination of other filter primitives.[1]

Framework for applying a filter

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<svg xmlns=""
  viewBox="0 0 400 300">
    <filter id="AFilter">
      <!-- Definition of filter goes here -->
  <text x="10" y="100" filter="url(#AFilter)">a filter applied</text>


  1. ^ Schulze, Dirk; Jackson, Dean, eds. (18 December 2018). "Filter Effects Module Level 1". Retrieved 2023-01-14.