If you sit at a keyboard all day, it can start to get a little boring. So, why not consider blinging it up with some artisan keys? If you use a mechanical keyboard then each key is able to be removed and replaced. This opens up for endless possibilities of customizing your keyboard to not only your personal preference of how you type but it can also become a reflection of your personality.
If you use a mechanical keyboard then each key is able to be removed and replaced. This opens up for endless possibilities of customizing your keyboard to not only your personal preference of how you type but it can also become a reflection of your personality.
Mechanical keyboard keys, or more specifically their switches, come in a large range of different designs that affect their sound, tactileness and force required to actuate the key. To take this customization even further there is a small but dedicated group of artists creating artisan keycaps that fit over the top of your keyboard keys to provide the ultimate customization. These guys can provide you with a spooky ESC key or a jaunty space bar.
Check out the work from the artists at KeyPress who transform the keys from mechanical keyboards into tiny works of art. Each features a painting with very accurate attention to detail. The keys range from a portrait of snoopy to elaborate sculpture and keys painted in the shape of dragons and other mythical creatures.
While the KeyPress team stick to painting for their customization, KeyForge is responsible for the creation of the 3D keycaps you can see below.
Each key is hand carved and cast in resin. Each creation is made in very limited edition small batches and is sold via online flash sales. If the Reddit thread accompanying the sales are anything to go by, you have to get pretty lucky to get your hands on some genuine KeyForge art.
But if you don’t have the patience to wait, you might like to consider commissioning some art of your own. There are lots of keycap makers that take commissions and will work with you to make your keyboard dreams a reality. The cost of an artisan keycap or key can range from $20USD all the way up to $1000.
The most famous mechanical keyboard switch maker is the Cherry Corporation. The company started producing keyboards in 1967, and still produce keyboards and switches under that name, despite being sold to Friedrichshafen AG in 2008. The company’s most popular switch is the Cherry MX. It is used in a variety of keyboards as well as the boards made by the company. Each Cherry MX switch is given a reference of a color to denote the switch's handling and functionality.
Each switch has different grades of sound, depending on whether or not is tactile and how much force is required to engage the switch. The actuation is measured in in centiNewtons (cN) or grams (g).
Each switch is more or less suitable for different types of uses. Some are recommended for lots of typing, others for gaming and so on. But you don’t need to only choose one type for the whole keyboard. You can customize your keyboard with a variety of switches depending on what you do. For instance, if you type a lot, you might want a medium weighted key but have heavily weighted numeric keys for when playing your favorite PC game. Some people that type a lot enjoy a loud clacky key, that gives them the satisfaction of hearing the keys while typing. But this type of setup wouldn't be recommended for today's open-plan offices.