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ZingPath: Color

Color Mixing: Paints and Light

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Color Mixing: Paints and Light

Physical Science

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Learners mix primary colors for paints and projected lights for a theater company.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that magenta, yellow, and cyan are primary colors for paints or pigments.
  • Explain that red, green, and blue are primary colors when working with projected lights.
  • Explain that mixing primary colors for paints results in black but mixing the primary colors for projected lights results in white light.

Everything You'll Have Covered

>Color is the overall wavelength emitted or reflected by an object, and is the recognition of visible light, the only visually perceptible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum

A primary color is one of a set of colors, typically three, that can be combined into a desired range of colors. A secondary color is the result of mixing two primary colors, and a tertiary color is the result of mixing a primary color and a secondary color.

When working with projected light, red, green and blue are considered the primary colors, while magenta, yellow, and cyan are the secondary colors. Red and green combine to produce yellow, while green and blue combine to produce cyan. Finally, blue and red combine to produce magenta. When all three primary colors of light are mixed, white light is the result.

Because white light is the result of a mixture of colors, it does not have a specific wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum, and therefore is not a true color.

When working with paints or pigments, magenta, yellow, and cyan are the primary colors. They combine to produce red, green and blue, the secondary colors. Magenta and yellow combine to produce red, while yellow and cyan combine to produce green. Finally, cyan and magenta combine to produce blue. When all three primary colors are combined as paints or pigments, they produce black.

Pigments absorb or reflect visible light. They absorb all colors other than their own, which they reflect. Therefore, the visual perception associated with a particular pigment is that pigment's wavelength in the visible light spectrum. For instance, when white light is shown upon a red pigmented surface, the pigment absorbs all color wavelengths within the visible light spectrum, other than the red wavelength. This results in the visual perception of red. Because black is a combination of all three primary colors, it absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum, and the result is an absence or light or color. Therefore, black, like white, is also not a true color.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts absorb, color, light, mix, paint, pigment
Course Physical Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary absorb, color, electromagnetic spectrum