Colorful cube

Explore the intricacies of color subtraction!

15 minutes


  • Carefully review the general safety advice on the back of the box cover before starting the experiment.
  • Disassemble the setup after the experiment.


  • Dispose of solid waste together with household garbage.

Scientific description

In the previous experiment, you learned that optical filters  can be used to create new colors. Let’s see just how many colors they can make.

A cube of optical filters  can help us figure out how the subtraction of color components works. When exposed to white light, the yellow  filter absorbs the blue portion , the magenta filter —the green portion , and the cyan filter —the red portion .

When white light  falls on one side of the cube , the filter absorbs rays of a particular color, subtracting them from the white beam. The remaining colored rays reach the next filter, which absorbs some more of them. Through the cube, we only see the colors that survive the double filtration. For example, when white light  first passes through the magenta filter , the green part  is absorbed. Then when the rest of the light passes through the yellow filter , the blue part  is subtracted. What colors are left unabsorbed?