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Rainbows are awesome. They're bright, attractive and optimistic, so it's no wonder that artists will frequently bring a splash of color to whatever they're creating by adding a rainbow.

It's commonly held that rainbows have seven colors. However, a number of reasons - simplistic art style, limited palette, low graphics resolution - mean that it's not always practical for an artist to include all seven.

That's when you use a Rainbow Lite. It's a quick way to convey the idea of 'rainbow' without using the whole spectrum. Two notable varieties include:

Type 1: Six Colors Purple

  • Poor indigo is often the first casualty, being so subtly distinguished from its neighbors. In this case, it gets merged with violet under the more umbrella hue of purple.

Type 2: Three Colors Green / Three Colors Blue

  • The minimum number of different colors required to retain the idea of 'rainbow' is three, most frequently red, yellow and either green or blue.

In both cases, the colors will be sharply delineated, as opposed to the actual blending from one to the other you get in a true rainbow. Don't count on them being in the correct order, either.

We really ought to note that the distinctions between colors are somewhat arbitrary, and indigo in particular only made it into the "official" rainbow because it fit with a numerological theory Isaac Newton had.

Examples of Rainbow Lite include:


  • The artwork for Lucky Charms cereal frequently features a Type 1 rainbow.
    • The Marbits themselves use a Type 2 Rainbow.
  • A Rice Krispies Squares "music" advertising campaign listed the colours of the rainbow as "red, orange, yellow, green and blue."

Live Action TV

  • Big One of JAKQ Dengekitai is a rare case of having four colors rather than either type above.


  • The iconic cover of The Dark Side of the Moon (the Prism) is noticeably missing indigo. It's a subtle clue that "something is missing," a recurring motif within the songs.

Video Games

  • The rainbow bridges featured in Bubble Bobble sequel Rainbow Islands are Type 1 in the arcade and Type 2 on the NES.
  • Sumaga has a rainbow motif, but only red, blue and yellow are represented. Though Sumaga Special adds in purple and green.
  • The rainbow Kirby paints across the sky in the ending of Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a Type 2 red-blue-yellow.


Web Original

  • The "sweet, sweet rainbow bridge" that Strong Bad conjures up in his email "Flashback" is a classic Type 1.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • The official Gay Pride Flag as of 1979 omits indigo, though the original design (1978) included indigo as well as hot pink (the first dropped because the color spacing didn't look right hanging from lamp posts in San Francisco's Market Street, the latter dropped because that color fabric was not widely available).
  • Ironically enough, some actual rainbows, if there isn't enough water in the air, don't express the full spectrum.
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