The Painting With CMY Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom. 

This Interactive does use a newer technology known as WebGL. WebGL is a JavaScript-based technology that is built into most modern browsers on mobile devices as well as desktop/laptop browsers. Older browsers may not be WebGL compliant or may not offer it as a standard feature but allow it to be enabled by the user of the device. For instance, the Safari browser has an Enable WebGL option in its Develop menu. Without enabling WebGL, the use of WebGL JavaScript code is not functional and would not work in such browsers. We expect that future browsers will all be WebGL-compliant and we have thus used this technology for the creation of this Interactive. Additional information about WebGL can be found on Wikipedia.

Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is one of several Interactives in this section that pertain to the topic of color addition, color subtraction, filters, and color vision. We suggest that this Interactive be used early in a discussion of the interaction between pigments and light. In the Interactive, learners apply primary pigments (chemicals that selectively absorb specific colors of light) to the various parts of a football uniform. The primary pigments are cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y). The result of adding one or more pigment can be quickly observed. There are two modes of use - Basic and Advanced. In Basic mode, pigments can be added to various parts of the uniform in "full strength". When added as a full-strength pigment, a cyan pigment will absorb 100% of the red light. In Advanced mode, learners add pigments of varying strength and observe the result. There are four different strengths, with each strength being denoted by a percent value. A cyan pigment applied at 25% strength absorbs 25% of the red light that shines upon it.

The Physics Classroom has provided a ready-to-use classroom exercise for use with this Interactive. The exercise guides students through both the result of mixing the primary pigments in varying stength and the explanations to why we observe what we observe.

Our Painting With CMY simulation is now available with a Concept Checker. Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker.


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Painting With CMY Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments LC4, LC5, LC6, and LC7 of the Light and Color module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding of color vision, most notably ...

    Reflection, Transmision, and Color
    Color Addition and Subtraction
    Viewed in Another Light
    Pigments and Paints

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Four notable lab ideas include ...

    Color Addition Lab
    Taking Away from RGB Lab
    Painting with CMY Lab
    Filtering Away Lab

    Visit The Laboratory.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating the Painting With CMY Interactive into an instructional unit on Light and Color can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive and for contributing it to our collection of Physics Interactives. Visit to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.

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