9 Mar 2011

Visible Colour Spectrum, Colour Blindness & Colour Healing

Baby if you've ever wondered, wondered what ever became of me. I'm living on the air in Cincinnati, Cincinnati WKRP.

The universe we live is perceived through vision using the visible spectrum of light, from Red ~700nm to Violet ~400nm. These form the familiar colours of the rainbow, which is caused by white light diffracting through rain droplets acting as prisms.

The colour of an object is both the combination of its properties of surface diffuse color, specular reflection, refraction, absorption (and more) and the color of the light falling on the object itself. A red object illuminated by a blue light will appear black.

To create colour in our daily life, we use lights with colour filters, pigments or dyes, and reflective materials.

Colours can also be created using interference:

  • random patterns in a substance produces scatter, e.g. blue sky
  • patterns on the surface of an object produces iridescence, e.g. bird feathers, mother of pearl, opals, butterfly wings, soap bubbles, films of oil


Color Blindness in Design

spectrum-blindnessWhereas birds and some women are able to perceive 4 primary colours including ultraviolet, it is also necessary to consider that large percentages of the population are in fact color-blind, so certain color combinations on website, posters and flyers, may simply not be visible at all.

Although there are many types, the most common hereditary type is red-green color blindness, between 7-10% of the male population, with females unaffected. The percentages for dichromacy (see only 2-colors) are around 2.4% and anomalous trichromacy (1-color deficient) is around 6%.

Good graphic design avoids using color coding, or color contrasts alone, to express information as this not only helps color blind people, but also aids understanding by normally sighted people.

Color Tools

Click on the more link below to see the Color Scheme Designer online tool. It includes a simluation of color blindness to ensure your design remains visible.

Launch Color Scheme Designer


Color Healing

Colour has a strong association with certain emotional states. Red is a colour of warmth and comfort, blue is calming and cooling. Colour is also used in many alternative healing methodologies where they are associated with certain healing aspects.

The Chakras


Many Eastern healing modalities, including Indian, Chinese and Japanese base many of the healing on the existence of the chakra.

A chakra is believed to be a center of activity that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy. The word chakra literally translates as wheel or disk and refers to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching forward from the spinal column. Generally, six of these wheels are described, stacked in a column of energy that spans from the base of the spine to the middle of the forehead, the seventh lying beyond the physical world. It is the six major chakras that correlate with basic states of consciousness.

Anodea Judith (1996: p. 5)

spectrum-chakrasThe combination of healing modalities of ReikiShiatsu and Chinese Acupuncture together with Crystal Healing, all base their properties that certain colours promote healing effects. The chakras with their associated colours, are linked with endocrine glands, emotional states, crystals with similar colors and therefore form a holistic approach to colour healing.

More on Chakras
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