Helical structure of complementary colors' relative spectral distribution function

Ralph W. Pridmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


I report a curious double helix in psychophysical data. As recently reported, color complementarism structures at least 40 functional roles in vision including all Red-, Green-, Blue-peaked functions (e.g., color matching functions, Helmholtz-Kohlrausch effect, saturation discrimination, lightness discrimination, and wavelength discrimination). These can be modeled from the relative spectral power distribution (SPD) function of complementary colors (at requisite power ratios to neutralize complements). So, the SPDs three-dimensional (3D) structure is of interest. Extended to the hue cycle, the SPD is plotted in a rectilinear graph of wavelength versus wavelength with radiance vertical to the plane. In this rectilinear color mixture space, the white locus representing the illuminant chromaticity is not a single point (representing the junction of complementary pairs of wavelengths) but a sinusoidal curve whose 3D structure is a double helix, representing an SPD and its complementary SPD. The structure's purpose is possibly to store and access global complementary colors data across illuminants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-296
Number of pages5
JournalColor Research and Application
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • color mixture
  • complementary colors
  • helix
  • spectral power distribution

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