Unweaving the Rainbow: The Importance of Colour in Print

Posted on 11th September, 2015

How many colours are there in a rainbow? Every infant will tell you that there are seven and name them: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. But look again. The rainbow is a spectrum and you can draw the dividing lines where you will. How many colours you see may even be a cultural determination. The ancient Greeks lacked a word for blue. The modern Russians have a word for light blue, galuboy, that corresponds to blue as pink corresponds to red in English.

Sir Isaac Newton looked at the rainbow and from his vantage point (presumably on the shoulders of giants) he saw seven colours. But although he is the scientist that most people deem responsible for ushering in the modern age of science, he was also a bit of an occultist and he considered the number seven to have mystical properties. Look again at the rainbow. Do you see indigo and violet or do you see blue and purple?

What colours aren’t in a rainbow? Johann Walter von Goethe may sound like a candidate for the next Bond villain but he was a preeminent German Romantic poet and philosopher who published a book on colour theory Zur Farbenlehre in 1810. He was less concerned with Newton’s optical spectrum and more concerned with how humans perceive colour. He was the first to recognise the importance of magenta. The addition of magenta allows the colour spectrum to be bent into a circle. Magenta blending between red and purple just as green blends between yellow and blue.

We take colour seriously at Colour Print. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality print, on time and at competitive prices. We offer quality litho and digital printing services. Call us on 01603 488001 and one of our team will be happy to talk through your plans with you and explain how we can assist.

Rainbow in a blue sky

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