A-Z Popular Blog Color Search »
Color Theory
Related Guides
Key Concepts
Color Perception

Color Harmony

Color Combinations

Bright Colors

Color Depth

8 Examples of a Spectral Color

A spectral color is a color that corresponds to a pure wavelength of visible light. All colors are formed with mixes of spectral colors such that they are the root of all color. Spectral colors correspond to wavelengths of light and are theoretically infinite as you could continually measure smaller and smaller differences between wavelengths. Traditionally, these are separated into eight different color names by wavelength as follows.
ColorWavelength (nm)
Violet380 - 430
Indigo430 - 460
Blue460 - 500
Cyan500 - 520
Green520 - 565
Yellow565 - 590
Orange590 - 625
Red625 - 740
Millions of perceptible colors can be made by mixing the various wavelengths of light above in different combinations and using different light intensities. The practice of breaking the range of visible light into eight named ranges is cultural or technical such that it can be done in different ways. For example, it is common to merge the indigo range above into blue. The following is a visualization of the entire range.

Spectral Color vs Primary Color

Spectral colors are based on the science of light perception such that they map to the physics of light that can be perceived by humans. Primary colors are a set of colors defined by a color system that can be used to simulate all other colors. The following chart illustrates the difference between these concepts.
Spectral Color
Primary Color
Based On
Art & Technology
The physics of light that can be perceived with the eyes.
A system for simulating all colors with a small set of colors.
Can reproduce all colors?
No, some colors are only simulated with primary colors such as red, green and blue (RGB). You need all spectral colors to truly reproduce all colors.
Understanding color
Implementing a technology or painting method that simulates a wide range of colors.
There is only one set of spectral colors.
There are many different sets of primary colors corresponding to different technologies and painting methods.


Although spectral colors are the root of all colors, other factors impact color. For example, light intensity can be used to make colors light or dark.
Visible light is a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes extremely shortwave lengths such as a 1 picometre gamma ray all the way up to a extremely low frequency radio wave that is 100,000 kilometers long.
White light is what your brain perceives when hit with all spectral colors at the same time as in sunlight.
Pure spectral colors are relatively rare as most colors are some mix of color. Rainbows are a good example of spectral colors in nature.
Overview: Spectral Color
A color that corresponds to a pure wavelength of visible light.
Related Concepts

Color Theory

This is the complete list of articles we have written about color theory.
Analogous Color
Color Combinations
Color Depth
Color Harmony
Color is Real
Color Perception
Color Purity
Color Saturation
Color Scheme
Color Space
Color Symbolism
Color Temperature
Complementary Colors
Corporate Colors
Heat Map
Impossible Colors
Monochromatic Color
Primary Colors
Rainbow Colors
Spectral Color
Tints And Shades
Visible Spectrum
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.


Thomas J. Bruno, Paris D. N. Svoronos. CRC Handbook of Fundamental Spectroscopic Correlation Charts. CRC Press, 2005.

Visible Spectrum

A palette of all the colors of the visible spectrum.


The pure colors of color theory.

Color Theory

An overview of color theory.

Does Color Exist

Why color does and doesn't exist.

Words To Describe Color

A vocabulary for describing colors.

Color Depth

A list of the common types of color depth and the number of colors that can be displayed by each.

List of Hues

A palette of pure hues of color.

Opposite Colors

A list of useful complementary colors as a palette.

Blue Opposite

The opposites of blue colors.

Brown Opposite

The opposites of brown color.

Visual Design

A list of visual design techniques, elements and considerations.

Modern Design

The defining characteristics of modern design.

Color Perception

The characteristics of color perception.

Vanishing Point

The definition of vanishing point with examples.

Words To Describe Art

A vocabulary for art description, critique and evaluation.

Art Elements

The common elements of art with examples.

Black Opposite

The true opposites of black color.

Logo Colors

A chart of color symbolism for logo design with a large palette of logo colors.

Art Examples

An overview of art with examples of different styles.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map