Ink and paint get their colors by absorbing some of the colors in white
light and reflecting others. Green ink looks green because it reflects the
green part of white light and absorbs all the other colors. Red ink looks
red because it reflects red light and absorbs all the other colors. When
you mix green, red, blue, and yellow ink, each ink that you add absorbs
more light. That leaves less light to reflect to your eye. Since the mixture
absorbs light of many colors and reflects very little, you end up with black.
This and dozens of other cool activities are included in the Exploratorium's Science Explorer books, available for purchase from our online store .
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