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Science_Lab_Yellow / Lesson 3: When Color is Reflected

When Color is Reflected

What will we be learning today?

  • In this lesson, we are going to see what happens when color is reflected.

  • What Happens When Color Is Reflected?

    When light strikes an object, pigments-colored substances-in the object reflect some colors but absorb other colors. The absorbed colors are missing in the reflected light. The reflected colors mix to produce the color of the object, as shown above.

    The leaf in the drawing looks green because it has a pigment that absorbs red and blue light but reflects green light. Some materials reflect all colors and so appear white. Other materials absorb all colors and so appear black.

    Colors Made by Blending Paints

    Remember that the colors that result when you blend paints are different from the colors that result when you blend colored lights. As you mix colored lights, you keep adding light until you get white.

    As you mix pigments, such as food dyes or markers or paints, you keep subtracting colors until you get black. That is how black is formed at the center of the color wheel below.

    Magenta, cyan, and yellow are called the primary pigments. Each absorbs one primary color of light and reflects the other two. When properly mixed, these pigments can create any desired color by reflecting a blend of primary colors of light.

    Under white light, for example, equal amounts of magenta and cyan would produce the color blue. The cyan would absorb the red out of the white light and the magenta would absorb the green out of the light. Only blue would be reflected.