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 / Six Colors Blue
- 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. In other cases, it can be merged with blue after the original dye.
Three Colors Green / Three Colors Blue
- The minimum number of different colors required to retain the idea of "rainbow" is three, most frequently either red or pink, 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.
- Legion of Super-Heroes:
- Substitute Legion member Color Kid's costume includes a color spectrum representation across his torso in a slightly arched rainbow of five colors.
- Substitute Legion member Rainbow Girl has a band of three colors symbolizing a rainbow on several parts of her costume.
- Julie Power/Lightspeed of Power Pack is usually drawn creating a tricolor rainbow behind her.
- In Issue 31 of the 1973 volume of Shazam, Mister Mind (posing as a human named Mister Wonderful) recruits six women as his villainous Rainbow Squad, giving each of them one of Captain Marvel's powers and a colour-coded outfit (Strength - Red, Stamina - Orange, Speed - Yellow, Courage - Green, Wisdom - Blue and Power - Purple).
- In Issue 19 of Tiny Titans, a five-color rainbow (that is, every color except indigo and violet is present) appears in the sky when Bumblebee and Plasmus meet up.
- 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.
- Dungeons & Dragons averts this with the prismatic spells (prismatic spray being the best known). They all have 7 different colors, each one of the traditional colors of the rainbow and each having a different effect (some of the spells hit you with a random color, others affect you with all of them at once)
- A common issue on toys since omitting colors means its 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, pictured above, in Five Nights at Freddy's World takes an unusual approach: it's three colors, but the colors are pink, orange, and blue.
- Team Rainbow Rocket, a revived version of Team Rocket that appears in the post-game storyline of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon consisting of alternate universe versions of villainous team leaders from across the main games who won in their universes, naturally has their "R" logo updated to reflect their name. It only has four colors, however...and they happen to be the four colors associated with Generation I: red, yellow, green, and blue.
- Idle Empire 3: The rainbow has four colors - red, yellow, green, and blue.
- Promo material for the second chapter Deltarune shows Ralsei emanating a rainbow that's yellow, red, and cyan.
- Sumaga has a rainbow motif, but only red, blue and yellow are represented. Though Sumaga Special adds in purple and green.
- This wiki uses one as the icon for the Ho Yay namespace.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: The show's logo◊ 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.
- Care Bears:
- The rainbows in the 2002 incarnation are oddly positioned in this order: yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, green.
- Though Cheer Bear's rainbow belly badge has all the colors of a traditional rainbow, her Care Bears: Unlock the Magic design has only three colors: red, yellow and blue.
- Gravity Falls: GIFfany has pink, light blue and pale yellow as part of her main color scheme.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rainbow Dash is a blue pony with orange, green, pink, and purple hair.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The rainbow beam that the Elements of Harmony produce contains six colors, omitting indigo. Strangely, the rainbow produced when the Mane Six are Rainbow Powered contains the coat colors of the Mane Six — pink, orange, yellow, white, blue, and purple.
- Rainbow Dash has only six distinct colors in her mane, and the rainbow she trails behind her as she flies 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. The six-color rainbow trail is justified, as it's not an actual rainbow but either some effect of her pegasus magic or just her afterimage.
- Several 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.
- The 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.
- Subverted in "All Bottled Up". During the song "Best Friends Until the End of Time", the Mane Six are seen walking on top of a rainbow, each on her own color lane. Unusually, this rainbow has eight colors (by adding a shade of red), to better center all six characters on it, with two empty lanes on the edges.
- 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.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Patty Hype", the angry citizens of Bikini Bottom make a six-color rainbow (indigo is excluded) while chasing Mr. Krabs. The Pretty Patties themselves come in every color except indigo.
- 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.
- Ironically enough, some actual rainbows, if there isn't enough water in the air, don't express the full spectrum.
- The official Gay Pride Flag as of 1979 omits indigo, though the original design (1978) didn't have blue and were split into turquoise and indigo, and the flag included hot pink (the first two were dropped because the color spacing didn't look right hanging from lamp posts in San Francisco's Market Street, the latter was dropped because that color fabric was not widely available).
- In an inversion, the Philadelphia LGBT pride flag has brown and black stripes which real rainbows don't have. It was meant to convey that LGBT people can be races other than white but it is kind of odd when you consider that black is the absence of color (for additive colors at least, which includes rainbows) meaning a black stripe in a rainbow would be impossible by definition.
- It is often overlooked that Sir Isaac Newton lived and worked in an era where modern scientific thought was still emerging from mediaeval mysticism and occult thought; the man who devised calculus was also an alchemist, who spent a lot of time and effort seeking truth in pre-scientific thought. Part of the mediaeval mystical pattern of thinking was the doctrine of numbers and correspondences: seven was thought important in God's creation. If there were seven visible "planets", seven musical notes, seven days of Creation, etc., the thinking went, then if white light was capable of being broken into visible colours, therefore there must be seven of them. The elusive indigo was Newton's fudge to make the seperated rainbow colours of the prism into the mystic sevennote . Without the alchemical baggage, he'd only have seen six. note
- The nutritional tip "Eat the rainbow" is shorthand for "Eat different-colored fruits and vegetables so that you consume a wide variety of the different healthy phytonutrients that cause the different colors." The edible rainbow has 5 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue/indigo/violet — the last three are all lumped together since they're all caused by concentrations of the same antioxidant flavonoid (anthocyanins).