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How To Recycle A Couple Of King Arthur Tin Cans

March 13, 2014

OK, say you have an idea for a “knight joke,” and you draw up a bunch of knights in somewhat scruffy armor.

You make your joke, but then you keep having ideas for more knight jokes. What do
you do? Recycle your tin cans, of course!

For example, here’s a pun on “Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night,” a lyric from Tonight, one of the best-known songs from West Side Story:

flirting between two knights in armor, caption: Two Knight Won't Be Just Any Knight

If those two knights look familiar, it may be because you saw them in my last post,
which featured my original knight joke:poster showing nine medieval King Arthur era knights standing wearing armor chain mail with swords spears joke caption succession of one-knight stands

So if you’re an illustrator, what’s the best way to recycle your tin cans?

It helps a lot if you create all your knights as separate Photoshop documents. For example, here’s our first knight and a portion of the corresponding Layers Window. I’d like to copy the entire knight, but leave out the ground shadow and the white background.

But how can I do that when the knight’s composite color is spread out across multiple layers?

medieval knight in romantic pose, Photoshop layers window showing all layers visible including white background

Answer: use one of Photoshop’s lesser known features: the extremely powerful Copy Merged.

How does it work? You begin by turning off the visibility of the layers you don’t want to include. Then you use the Rectangular Selection Tool to select the portion of the image you want to copy. Then you choose Edit>Copy Merged. Photoshop then copies your selection across all visible layers– everything it can “see” within the selection. It’s that easy.

medieval knight in armor, romantic pose, layers window shows background layer visibility turned off for Copy Merged operation

Next, I created a new document with a white background and chose Edit>Paste to
add my Copy Merged image on its own layer. Because the knight occupies an otherwise transparent layer, I can add a texture or anything else I want behind it. medieval knight in armor, romantic pose, copy merged pasted into new document on its own layer above white background layer

I repeated the above steps with my second knight: open the original Knight #2 document, do a Copy Merged, paste Knight #2 into the new composite document, which places him on his own otherwise transparent layer.medieval knight in armor, romantic pose, second knight copy merged pasted into document, also on its own layer

Next, I expanded my Canvas Size, and added my text, all on separate Text Layers.two medieval knights in armor, romantic situation, text added Two Knight Won't Be Just Any Knight pun on famous Broadway musical song title

I had a grungy pinkish texture I thought would work well as background. I copied and pasted it in behind all the other layers.

Then I added a Layer Mask, chose color = Black, and used a soft brush at reduced flow and opacity to mask out the texture in the central portion of the image.

two medieval knights in armor, romantic situation, pink grunge texture added, then layer mask used to hide part of texture

I thought the remaining texture looked a little too faint, so I duplicated the texture layer, and set the layer mode to Multiply. I adjusted the Opacity setting until I liked the result.two medieval knights in armor, romantic situation, pink grunge texture added, then duplicated and mode equals multiply used to darken texture around perimeter

Can two tin cans find love and happiness at the recycling center? We can but hope. Here’s the final again. If you like “knight humor,” you can find additional shining examples at my online store.flirting between two knights in armor, caption: Two Knight Won't Be Just Any Knight

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Do you think my idea might lead to a revival of West Side Story? How about Camelot??

Is it really possibly to flirt in a suit of armor? Can you speak from experience??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2014 12:45 PM

    Great tutorial.
    And very useful if you get a gig promoting renaissance Faires!


    • March 19, 2014 4:32 PM

      Ha! Thank you, my dear fellow! Your renaissance faire quip made me laugh. Can’t say too many of those pop up around here, but I shall put on my jester costume and try to drum up some support!

      Speaking of support, yours is always most sincerely appreciated– prithee, I thank thee, sire. : )


  2. March 13, 2014 3:10 PM

    Another informative photoshop tutorial – stumbled! 🙂


    • March 19, 2014 4:48 PM

      I’m sorry that tute made you stumble and fall. My fault for leaving all those tin cans lying around… : P

      Many thanks, TT. I appreciate your passing it along, and I especially appreciate you. : )


  3. March 13, 2014 3:53 PM

    It’s not possible to flirt in a suit armour! 🙂 I’m not an illustrator and even if I were, just reading your posts would make me a better one! 🙂 Great job Mark!!


    • March 19, 2014 4:51 PM

      It’s not possible to flirt in a suit of armor?? Gosh! No wonder I never have any luck down at the donut shop… : )

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Seyi– you always make me smile!! => : )


  4. March 13, 2014 5:54 PM

    Ah – so that means that we are going to have the JOY of more KNIGHT Jokes! Hoorah – hoorah! I’m all in for this tin recycling! In admiration, I realize now that I have to broaden my hat collection, only to be able to take a new one off whenever I see your work! 🙂


    • March 19, 2014 5:22 PM

      My dear Marina! Thank you for supporting tin recycling! Maybe I should contribute my tin ear to the next scrap drive. Of course, my ears become highly sensitive audio instruments whenever I listen to your music, which soothes the savage illustrator… : )

      I’m going to saddle up my trusty steed (rocking horse) and ride down to thrift store, and buy all the hats they’ve got. No, I won’t be shipping them to you, I need them for tipping myself– whenever I view work by The Fairest Painter On Mt. Olympus!! Um, that would be you… : )

      Thank you as always for your delightful comments and support! : )


  5. March 13, 2014 9:11 PM

    Do you take your tin cans to the recycling center? Not if you’re an illustrator!! You recycle them yourself. Why? Three reasons: fame, fortune, and, uh… dang! what’s the other one?? Oh, right– to make the world a happier place… : )

    Sorry… I can’t help grabbing your previous thoughts from the cache. They usually make such cans out of aluminum these days, don’t they? Although in the case of your rather posh-looking knights, they may have decided to go for the really light, really strong, but really expensive stuff– titanium!


    • March 19, 2014 7:36 PM

      Arrgghh! Right you are, Jak. Aluminum cans– of course!! The only time you see tin cans anymore is in old cartoons where goats are munching on them contentedly… : )

      Titanium armor– now there’s a thought. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi thriller: a time portal allows medieval knights to grab some 21st century titanium threads and change history back in, what– the 6th century? Or did Michael Crichton or someone already think of that?? : )

      Thanks for your comment and continuing support, Sir Jak! : )


  6. March 13, 2014 9:14 PM

    p.s. nice to see you’ve got a store, now! Need to make a note about getting some of the “Christmas in Spokane” prints as greeting cards for the family next December…


    • March 17, 2014 9:49 PM

      Thanks, Jak! I’m going to train my virtual red carpet to roll out automatically whenever you approach my online emporium… : )


  7. March 13, 2014 11:37 PM

    wow great ,good one.


    • March 17, 2014 9:47 PM

      Thank you, sir!– very sincerely appreciated. Nice to meet you, thanks so much for stopping by! : )


  8. soul . to . earth permalink
    March 14, 2014 8:34 PM

    An ode to your knight series (thanks to Ol’ Blue eyes):

    Us strangers and your knights,
    exchanging glances
    Wondering at the knights,
    what were the chances
    We’d be sharing Likes
    before the knights were through….
    Something in their glance was so inviting
    Something in their stance was so exciting
    Something in your art told us we must Like youuuuuooooh…….



    • March 19, 2014 7:09 PM

      This. Comment. Was… INCREDIBLE!!!

      It has set a new literary standard here in Cans-I-Got!! Er, I mean, here in Camelot!! And it has set a new musical standard here– a category that didn’t even exist before!! PLUS– dare I say it??– you sing even better than Ol’ Blood-Shot Eyes Himself, my dear Radhika!!

      Wow. This knocked me out completely– a true work of art!! I know you’re a genius, but you didn’t just dash that off, did you?? Or did you?? It was beautifully constructed, supremely witty, and very, very funny– really can’t thank you enough!!

      Well, that’ll keep me going well into my next artistic crusade– thanks a million!!! : )


      • soul . to . earth permalink
        March 20, 2014 11:33 AM

        Lady Quipster* sayeth:
        These just ‘pop’ into my l’il head. I get out of the way and let them come….zat is all. My LOLs are also inspired by what I seeeth and readeth here.

        * Thank you Sir LOL, I embrace my new title.

        Singing? My bathroom’s tiles will need repair if I do. Hey, I like DIY but not when it’s DIY (Destroy It Yourself). I often wonder what type of toughened glass Céline Dion’s shower needs….!

        [This was one my Dad’s fav. songs + his sense of humour was just as crazy……me thinks in this way he lives on. If you ever do a sketch on three coins or a fountain……]


        • March 21, 2014 8:32 AM

          Lady Quipster, indeed, and much deserveth. Only instead of a royal scepter, I see you with a long feather, sneaking up behind people and tickling their ear… : )

          Your Céline Dion quip made me guffaw. Yea, forsooth, it’s incredible what passes for singing these days… : P

          Your dad sounds like quite a character (why am I not surprised??). I really like the idea of someone’s zany sense of humor living on thru a family member. I could say something about the only things truly worth bequeathing to humanity, but I don’t want to get a reputation for being too profound. I’m sure you, of all people, understand… : )

          Prithee, carry on, LQ!! : )


  9. March 15, 2014 1:44 PM

    I knight thee Top Illustrator and Punster Extraordinaire. I won’t ever be able to think of that “West Side Story” tune the same again.

    One marketing tip: Camelot could certainly be a success with Sir Can-a-lot. You keep me laughing, Mark.


    • March 19, 2014 7:16 PM

      Wow!– thank you, Your Majesty!! I’m so humbled, I think I’ll just stay here on my knees for a few days. Uh-oh! I hear some mint chocolate chip calling to me from the refrigerator– I’d better go investigate… : )

      Sir Can-a-lot!! I love it!! It has a nice tinny ring to it! You clearly acquired some marketing chops at the radio station– musta been all those on-air promos you used to do! Many thanks, Judy– always a great pleasure to hear from you!! : )


  10. Lily permalink
    March 18, 2014 6:03 PM

    This illustration really amused me – now I’ll never again be able to sing this song without thinking “two knight, two knight” 😛

    Another good post, Mark! 🙂


    • March 19, 2014 7:22 PM

      Ha! Thanks, Lily. I know what you mean: you hear a parody of some song or poem, and it’s the parody that gets stuck in your head– the poor original gets cast out into the cold! Oops, sorry, I’m getting a little melodramatic here… : )

      I hope you have a fire escape to do your singing on– I think it’s required for anything from West Side Story… : )

      Always so good to see you– thanks again!


  11. March 19, 2014 4:34 PM

    Wow! Another excellent tips from my favorite mentor!
    Merci beaucoup! xoxo 🙂

    By the way I’m so happy to check on your Armstrong Do-Nuts Online Store.. All the goods in there are so so uhmmmmstrong! hehehe

    Very excellent my friend… I’m happy for you and I wish you all the best! mmmwaaahhh


    • March 19, 2014 7:49 PM

      You enjoyed the tips?? I suppose they’re better than the tips I leave at the Lemons R Us Café (blush!). I’m always forgetting to leave a tip, just like I’m always forgetting to pay my bill… : (

      Thank you for checking out my print, poster, and virtual donut store! Yes, my name is Armstrong, and I make Strong products, guaranteed to last!! (except for the donuts, of course, which disappear quickly because of all the taste-testing I do… : )

      Thank you, my dear Dolly, for being my ongoing inspiration!!


  12. March 21, 2014 7:43 PM

    Mark you are a master of photoshop, photoshop is still very much in charge of me! Perhaps you should call yourself Grand Master of the Knights. If you intend on flirting in your suit of armour, make sure it is not raining, otherwise you may get rusted in….


    • April 1, 2014 3:47 PM

      Grand Master of the Knights… I like it! I’m going to add it to my delusions of grandeur collection… : P

      No flirting in the rain– got it, Jen, thanks! Since my armor is made of sardine cans, I was thinking the oily residue might give me some rust protection, but you’re right– a Grand Master can’t be too careful… : )

      Many thanks for your good-humored support!!


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