Saturation & colour

About saturation & wavelength
  • Saturation is one of the three primary properties of colour, alongside hue and brightness.
    • A colour looks saturated when made by a single or a small range of wavelengths.
    • A colour made by one wavelength of light is often referred to as a pure spectral colour.
    • Unsaturated colours appear faded due to a wider range of wavelengths.
    • Saturation is linked to the complexity of light.
Light complexity
  • Light complexity, linked to saturation, refers to the quantity and range of wavelengths of light used to create a colour.
    • Spectral colours are simple because they consist of just one wavelength of light.
    • Bands of colour are relatively simple because they are composed of a continuous range of wavelengths.
    • Non-spectral colours can be produced from a mix of many wavelengths from different parts of the spectrum, making them the most complex.
  • In reality, colours are often produced by complex combinations of wavelengths.
  • The greater the number and spread of wavelengths across the visible spectrum present in a colour, the lower the saturation.
  • The human eye can perceive millions of different colours due to the complex interactions of wavelengths and the eye’s colour receptors.