An artisan keycap is a miniature sculpt, usually handcrafted, that matches on the change of a mechanical keyboard so as to add some aptitude. Keycaps can be found in many various sizes and styles, and might be made utilizing quite a lot of supplies and strategies. The primary recognized artisan keycaps appeared circa late 2009 or early 2010, and spawned a distinct segment group of part-time indie makers and supportive collectors, initially promoting and buying and selling on Geekhack.
Makers now quantity within the lots of, with a number of of them producing keycaps full-time to promote to hundreds of hobbyists across the globe. Platforms have grown in quantity and scale because the early days, with a vibrant group posting lots of of retail and aftermarket keycap listings every week. On this information, we are going to cowl the basics of artisan keycaps, the assorted stem and profile sorts, how they’re usually made, and the place you’ll be able to study extra concerning the makers and their sculpts.
Artisan Keycap Profiles and Stems
There aren’t any set guidelines by way of artisan form or measurement, so long as it has a stem that may match on one of many widespread mechanical change sorts, corresponding to Cherry MX or Topre (T), or much less generally, Alps or Buckling Spring (BS). Whereas MX is by far the commonest artisan stem, some makers have adopted “TMX” stem designs, which assist each MX and T switches. TMX designs have been by numerous iterations through the years, some higher than others. Brocaps and KWK are examples of makers who’ve adopted TMX stems in a number of of their sculpts.
Many hobbyists historically use artisans on the highest row (row 1) within the Esc key or higher Operate key positions. Subsequently, artisans are sometimes sculpted on, or to match the profile of, a row 1 cap, most frequently Cherry or OEM. (See illustration of widespread keycap profiles, with prime row profile highlighted.) That stated, you need to use artisans on any row you want. Overly tall or extensive sculpts that deviate considerably from customary keycap shapes exist, however will not be as wanted as those who match nearer to traditional keycap profiles.
Artisan “blanks” are handmade caps that conform carefully or precisely to the usual profile keycaps, whereas incorporating numerous artisanal qualities such a multi-color resin or delicate texture or encapsulated objects inside the cap. Gamer units are widespread examples of blanks, that are made to interchange WASD or arrow keys, together with ESC and performance key pairs. Artisan “mods” are hand-made caps that exchange modifier keys across the alphas, corresponding to tab, caps lock, shift, alt, ctrl, enter, and so on. These keys are bigger than 1 unit (1u) in width, and fewer generally made than 1u width artisan keycaps.