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How to Create Simple Yet Effective PHP Overlay


Optimizing media is crucial for creating visually appealing and efficient websites. One effective method to achieve this is by using PHP overlays. Imagine dynamically layering images, watermarks, or text over other media elements without compromising performance or aesthetics.

PHP overlays offer a powerful solution for enhancing media presentations while maintaining optimal load times. This technique improves the visual appeal of web pages and contributes to better user experiences and higher engagement rates.

In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of PHP overlays, uncovering their benefits and practical applications. From adding watermarks to creating complex image compositions, you’ll discover how PHP overlays can transform your approach to media optimization.

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In this article:


What is an Overlay?

An overlay is a graphical component, often classified as a pop-up or modal, appearing on a main content (such as a web page or another image). It often obscures the background of the main content to divert the viewer’s attention to specific information such as discounts, subscriptions, notifications, forms, or upcoming events.

This modern way of presenting information improves the user experience without disrupting the view’s web flow. A user can quickly view a popup or decide to close it and keep scrolling. Because of this, overlays have become popular options within modern web design.

Creating a simple and functional overlay requires developers to use HTML, JavaScript, and PHP indexing and implementation. While all of this can be done from scratch, Cloudinary presents a simple but comprehensive approach with its PHP SDK.

Setting Up the Cloudinary PHP SDK

Cloudinary’s PHP SDK provides a comprehensive library for web designers to design the perfect overlay and transform images and videos. The library can be implemented using codes compatible with previous applications.

The PHP library presents diverse features such as:

  • Building URLs for image and video transformations
  • API wrappers for file uploads, administration, and sprite generation.
  • Helper tags for image transformation
  • Server-side and direct unsigned file upload from the browser with a jQuery plugin.

Installing and Configuring the Cloudinary PHP SDK

To install Cloudinary’s PHP SDK, use Composer to manage the library dependency. The PHP library should be installed directly from the packagist repository.

The code below guides you in updating your composer.json file.

  "require": {
    "cloudinary/cloudinary_php": "^2"

Use the prompt below to install dependencies and the PHP package automatically.

composer install

Web designers may likely experience issues with permission. Should this happen, run the file itself with the prompt:

php composer .phar install.

For the Cloudinary PHP library to function optimally, developers must configure their cloud_name. For API calls to upload images or videos, the api_key and api_secret must be configured. This information can all be located in the Cloudinary console dashboard.


Additionally, several optional configuration parameters may be needed, which can be done globally with an environmental variable of the configuration::instance method or programmatically in each call to a Cloudinary method.

Setting the Cloudinary URL environment variable

The Cloudinary URL environment variable enables designers to configure the required cloud_name, api_key, and api-secret by defining specific environmental variables. These variables can be found in the Cloudinary console dashboard.

This variable automatically defines your deployment environment, as can be seen below:


Additional parameters such as prefix_upload and more can be configured as shown in this prompt:


Global Parameter Setting

As a designer using the Cloudinary PHP application, you can set up your parameters globally. Hence, Cloudinary has taken time to simplify it, as presented in the configuration class example below.

use Cloudinary\Configuration\Configuration;

// configure globally via a JSON object

  'cloud' => [
    'cloud_name' => 'my_cloud_name', 
    'api_key' => 'my_key', 
    'api_secret' => 'my_secret'],
  'url' => [
    'secure' => true]]);

//  Or configure programatically

$config = Configuration::instance();
$config->cloud->cloudName = 'my_cloud_name';
$config->cloud->apiKey = 'my_key';
$config->cloud->apiSecret = 'my_secret';
$config->url->secure = true;

Designers who require multiple instances can configure them using the Cloudinary object. You can find more information about multiple instances here.

Image and Video Transformations using PHP overlay

Every designer aims to achieve perfection when deploying overlays. Even when images and animations are used, they must be overlaid properly. Being an image and video management software, Cloudinary helps designers automate their overlaying process, producing optimized websites with overlays that sit pretty.

Several methods are explained below to effectively transform images and video (including overlaying them with text and graphics).

  • The ImageTag method: Allows designers to add images to the PHP view using the Cloudinary UmageTag helper. It generates a full image resource URL based on the given transformation parameters. The image tag is added to the HTML code.
use Cloudinary\Cloudinary;

$cld = new Cloudinary();

The code above produces the following HTML URL tag:

<img src="">
  • Chaining transformation actions: This powerful transformation process combines several actions as part of a single request. For instance, you can overlay an image with text and graphics, crop it, and change it to a circular pattern. For example, the prompt below generates an image with 250px squares, making it circular and transparent.,c_fill,w_250/r_max/f_auto/livingroom-yellow-chair.png


  • Direct URL building: Involves generating a transformation URL without containing an ImageTag. This is unlike the ImageTag method, in which an HTML image tag is first produced. The Image helper method and call the toUr () method deliver the URL directly, as shown in the prompt example below.
// Output: ",h_150,w_100/sample.jpg"

  ->resize(Resize::scale(200, 200))
// Output: ",h_200,w_200/e_sepia/sample.png"

Transforming an Image with Text Using PHP Overlay

Designers and developers can use Cloudinary to create images with image and text overlays. The process can also be enhanced with gravity settings or x and y coordinates to position the overlays correctly.

Other features such as text size, font, and color, can be adjusted to enhance the text and image overlays. A couple’s photo is added to a teacup to demonstrate text overlay. First, the overlay photo is cropped using face detection, followed by saturation and vignette application. The text “Love” is added before cropping the final image.

Take a look at the code below:

use Cloudinary\Transformation\Resize;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Overlay;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\RoundCorners;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Adjust;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Effect;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Source;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Position;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Gravity;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\TextStyle;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Compass;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\FocusOn;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\Color;
use Cloudinary\Transformation\FontWeight;

(new ImageTag('coffee_cup.png'))
	->transformation((new Transformation())
	->position((new Position())
	Source::text("Love",(new TextStyle("Cookie",23))
	->position((new Position())->offsetX(-23)


The transformed image

Best Practices for Using PHP Overlays

When diving into PHP overlays, the potential to enhance your media content is immense. To ensure that your PHP overlays not only elevate your content but do so efficiently, adhere to these best practices:

  • Optimize Your Images First: Before applying overlays, ensure your base images are optimized for the web. This means compressing them without sacrificing quality, reducing load times, and improving user experience.
  • Keep Overlays Responsive: Ensure your overlays adjust seamlessly across different screen sizes. Use percentage-based dimensions or media queries so that your content looks great on any device.
  • Prioritize Accessibility: When adding text overlays, choose colors and fonts that maintain high contrast with the background for readability. Also, alternative text for images should be provided to ensure inclusivity.
  • Cache Generated Images: To boost performance, cache your overlay-enhanced images. This reduces server load and speeds up image delivery on subsequent visits.
  • Test Cross-browser Compatibility: Guarantee a uniform experience by testing your PHP overlay outputs across different browsers and devices. This ensures everyone sees your content as intended, regardless of how they access it.

Wrapping Up

Transforming images and videos using PHP overlay is an excellent step to building optimized and responsive website overlays. Luckily, Cloudinary makes the process simple and automated.

Our image transformation and optimization capacity empowers you to create powerful overlays, delivering value to your website visitors and boosting your analytics.

Easily upload, store, and manage your digital assets with Cloudinary’s user-friendly interface. Sign up for free today!

Last updated: Jun 23, 2024