I am looking for color combinations and effects which give us the feeling of something "psychedelic."

Sometimes there are the color combinations, sometimes the objects relations - some shadows create "double" vision of the object which is always "psychedelic".

A lot of people describe their migraine aura as psychedelic pictures, because it is similar to lightning.

These features are in constant use when we prepare parties announcements and for multiple modern events and of course in music clips.

What are common attributes - colors, designs, and styles associated with psychedelic style?

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2 Answers 2


That is not a "psychedelic" style. This is: https://www.google.com/search?q=psychedelic

The image your are posting is just a light beam or electric effect.

In terms of colors it is pretty obvious on the google search I posted you what colors are used. Saturated ones, and all the rainbow at the same time. Normally theese colors can be in a gradient, repetitive fashion.

It is not modern either. It is a period of pop culture of the 1960 and 1970 decades. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelic_era

In theese days it is more a "retro" style.

  • 2
    Probably the one term (rather than "lightning") that defines modern psychedelic style is "fractal," which is also probably what migraine sufferers mean when they liken it to lightning (presuming they don't have the words to describe it)
    – Yorik
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 21:03
  • Yup, but "fractal" is a really, really board concept. In terms of images too. THey can be 2D, or 3D. Colors does not matter, they can be monochromathic and flat.
    – Rafael
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 22:26

The purpose of psychedelic design was/is to express contempt for the order and balance seemingly enforced by society during a particular era (1960-1970s) and to try and break societal boundaries and norms (particularly with music, sexual norms, and drug use).

That isn't to say psychedelic design can't have order - there are many examples where there are repeating shapes, patterns and/or colors. But rather the psychedelic design approach de-emphasizes ordered structure in favor of chaotic patterns and shapes, strong saturated colors, and bold contrasts, much of which was influenced by drug use and concepts from Asian religions.

Psychedelic design is now re-used today to hearken back to that time period so it's more of a nostalgic look back rather than a continued rebellion against society.

But back to your question:

Colors: bright, vibrant colors based off of a primary palette, gradients (think tie-dye)

Patterns: sinuous, chaotic

Styles: high contrast, malleable forms, de-emphasize structure

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