But they're hard to draw. The colors in a rainbow vary continuously, not in discrete stripes. Fortunately, it's commonly held that rainbows have seven colors, so seven stripes are often considered "enough". However, a number of reasons — simplistic art style, limited palette, low graphics resolution — mean that it's not always practical to include even that many.
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:
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.
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. Strictly speaking, rainbows don't actually have any distinct color bands — their colors are one gradient from one end of the visual spectrum to the other, and the way we see them as being subdivided into distinct bands is a result of the way our minds instinctively try to categorize the world to understand it better. Thus, in a certain sense, every depiction of a rainbow is a Rainbow Lite that only contains a few of the shades of a real rainbow.
- The artwork for Lucky Charms cereal frequently features a six-color rainbow. The Marbits themselves use a three-color Rainbow.
- A Rice Krispies Squares "music" advertising campaign listed the colours of the rainbow as "red, orange, yellow, green and blue."
- This◊ ad for Target has a red-pink-yellow-green rainbow sew-on patch.
- The film Rainbow plays this for drama, believe it or not. The plot has the rainbow malfunctioning, meaning that colour gradually drains from the world.
- Big One of J.A.K.Q. 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.
- Sufjan Stevens: The liner notes of the Silver & Gold box set (particularly the album credits pages) feature several five-color rainbows with bizarre color selection. For example, a rainbow with lavender, two shades of green, bright blue, and brown.
- Most Rainbow albums that feature a rainbow on their cover are victims of this, falling under the second category, but also missing an orange stripe. The electric rainbow that was a part of their stage diorama was made of four colors.
- A common issue on toys since omitting colors means it's decals are cheaper to print, or the paint job can be skimped on to save cost. However a number of educational toys are starting to teach only 6 colors for whatever reason, with indigo of course being the casualty.
- Each Sage in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is associated with one color of the rainbow except indigo. Although Sheik/Zelda, the leader of the Sages, technically fills in that color by wearing a dark blue bodysuit most of the time.
- The rainbow bridges featured in Rainbow Islands have six colors in the arcade and three on the NES.
- The rainbow Kirby paints across the sky in the ending of Kirby's Dream Land 2 is a three-color red-blue-yellow.
- BIT.TRIP: CommanderVideo's rainbow trail is only five colors: yellow, orange, aqua, pink, and purple.
- Chica's Magic Rainbow in Five Nights at Freddy's World takes an unusual approach: it's three colors, but the colors are pink, orange, and blue.
- Sumaga has a rainbow motif, but only red, blue and yellow are represented. Though Sumaga Special adds in purple and green.
- The Magic School Bus episode about rainbows reduced it to six colors, dropping indigo as usual. Violet was kept as violet, however, and the distinction between purple and violet was even the subject of a Running Gag.
- Superjail! has way more rainbows than one would expect out of an ultra-violent [adult swim] comedy. Because of this, coupled with the show's distinctive crude-but-beautifully-animated art style, all sorts of rainbows have been seen over the course of the series. Some are full 7-color rainbows, some are the 6 color variation that exclude indigo, and others are even 3, 4, or 5 color rainbows.
- My Little Pony:
- From the first generation cartoon, My Little Ponyand Friends has the Rainbow of Light, which swaps out red for pink, and lacks indigo.
- My Little Pony G3:
- In The Runaway Rainbow, rainbows only have four colors: pink, purple, yellow, and blue.
- Generation 3 Rainbow Dash was positively bleak. All the colors in that show were pastel for some reason.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The rainbow beam that the Elements of Harmony produce contain six colors, omitting indigo. Strangely, the rainbow produced when the Mane Six are Rainbow Powered contains the coat colors of the Mane Six. (So, pink, orange, yellow, white, blue, and purple.)
- Rainbow Dash has only six distinct colors in her mane, and when she performs the sonic rainboom, the rainbow she trails is likewise a six-color Rainbow Lite. Her cutie mark features a three-color — red, yellow and blue — rainbow in the shape of a lightning bolt.
- Rainbowshine and a few other background ponies have three-color Rainbow Lite cutie marks, the bottom two colors being yellow and orange and the top color being either blue or purple. The purple-topped version is also one of the available cutie marks in the Virtual Paper Doll Web Games Adventures in Ponyville, Rarity, The Fabulous PonyMaker, and Rarity's Bridal Boutique.
- Toy line exclusive ponies Rainbow Flash, Island Rainbow, and Rainbow Wishes all have cutie marks featuring Rainbow Lites.
- When Pinkie Pie eats a rainbow (which is very spicy) in episode "Sonic Rainboom", her face changes colors as she experiences a succession of unpleasant tastes. Only five of the seven available colors are shown — red, orange, yellow, green and blue.
- Rainbow Brite's costume features only six colors, although her color-coordinated team has more than six members. To wit, the colors of Rainbow's friends are: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and Pink. She's in charge of ALL the tertiary colors of nature.
- The logo◊ of The Amazing World of Gumball is a six-colored rainbow, although unusually the missing color is blue, not indigo. Somewhat ironic given the title character (whose name in the same logo is written with seven colors) is himself blue.
- GIFfany of Gravity Falls has pink, light blue and pale yellow as part of her main color scheme.
- 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.