There are two main types of color mixing: additive color mixing and subtractive color mixing. Additive color mixing is creating a new color by a process that adds one set of wavelengths to another set of wavelengths. Additive color mixing is what happens when lights of different wavelengths are mixed. When we add all of the different wavelengths of sunlight, we see white light rather than many individual colors. It is called additive because all of the wavelengths still reach our eyes. It is the combination of different wavelengths that creates the diversity of colors.
Use this activity to explore color mixing and its various properties.
To see the illustration in full screen, which is recommended, press the Full Screen button, which appears at the top of the page.
Below is a list of the ways that you can alter the illustration. The settings include the following:
Screen Area: click on one of the primaries to move it around. Mixing only
occurs where primary circles overlap.
Primaries: control the intensity of each of the primaries: red, green and blue for additive, and cyan, magenta and yellow for Subtractive.
Reset Positions: returns the primary circles to their original position.
Pressing this button restores the settings to their default values.