Color Mixing Lab and Activities

Computer-Based Interactive Simulations

The Color Box Applet written by Philip Dukes is a great simulation with three options for the user. The first option allows you to mix the primary colors of light to create the secondary colors; the second option allows you to mix the primary colors of pigment. The third option again allows you to mix the primary colors of pigment, but this time you can vary the proportion of each color in the mix, and thus obtain many more colors. Look at the lab on color mixing included in the Exploratorium Web Lessons for an activity that uses the Color Box Applet.

Another great simulation can be found on the Color and Color TV page of the Physics 2000 Web site. This simulation allows you to mix the primary colors of light in different proportions to create a huge variety of colors. If you continue on to the next page, called Merging Color, you will find another interesting activity which demonstrates the way that TV screens create colors. You are allowed to vary the intensity of red, blue, and green dots on a simulated TV screen, and zoom in and out on the screen to see the color that you have created. In addition to these two simulations, these pages also include illustrated tutorials about light, color, and their relation to TV screens.

The Additive Color Applet by Sadahisa Kamikawa also allows you to mix the primary colors of light in different proportions to create new colors.

Another way to give your students experience with mixing colors in different proportions is to use the color choosing windows available on many Web browsers, photo and drawing programs, and Webpage creation programs. For instance, in Netscape Communicator 4.5, if you choose "Preferences" from the Edit menu, and then choose "Color," and then double click on any of the color boxes, you will open a program that lets you create colors by mixing different proportions of red, green, and blue light, or magenta, cyan, and yellow pigment.

There are several other Web pages that allow you to interactively mix "spotlights" of the primary colors of light to create secondary colors, without allowing you to change the proportion of each color. An example is the Mixing Light page from the Ontario Science Center.

Other pages allow you to interactively mix the primary colors of pigment, and again the majority do not allow you to vary the proportion of each color mixed. An example is the Computer Crayons page from the Ontario Science Centre. Another related example is the Painting with CMY page from Glenbrook South High School's physics pages. In this page, students can "paint" a football player using various combinations of primary colors.

The Molecular Expressions Web site has a page on Primary Colors which includes several interactive Java tutorials. The last tutorial of the page, which is about color separation, shows the cyan, magenta, yellow, and black color separations of a photograph and allows you to overlap them to create the final color photograph.

 

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Last update: May 2000

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