Customize your own Keysets
If you are looking to do something completely one of a kind you are most likely going to be looking at custom printed keycaps. While there are a few options out there, without a doubt the company that makes it easiest to design a complete keyset is WASD Keyboards. While they are known for their keyboards, if you dig around their website you will find that you can buy a full custom keyset. Frankly on their website the product images don’t really express just how crazy you can go with it. Lucky for us they hooked us up with two keysets. I went through the same process as you would when ordering on their website and put together two different sets, one is a completely custom printed set and the second has a few custom media key options for me but is otherwise just a design using different keycap colors. The goal was to showcase different directions that you can go through WASD Keyboards.
For both of my keysets I put together custom function keys because I had originally planned on using the sets on the Cooler Master Novatouch and the Quickfire Rapid. Cooler Master has their media function keys in the F keys where WASD Keyboards has their media keys on and around the home and end buttons. If you don’t plan on including media functions on your custom keyset you should be able to do everything directly on the tool they include on the website.
Using their online tool you can select from a list of different keyboard languages and layouts. In addition to that you can select from different function key styles from a modern look, using all symbols, or even an all blank look. They also give you an option to select what icon you have on the windows key, not only do you get multiple windows options but you can also pick other operating systems as well. From there, if you aren’t doing a custom printed keyboard you can manually color each key using one of the 11 different color options that they offer. I decided to try to turn my keyboard into a ninja turtle, Michelangelo to be specific. You can really let your creativity go wild when doing this. If you are out of ideas they have a few photos over on their website and on their Facebook page.
When it comes to doing a full custom UV printed keyset things are going to be a little harder. WASD Keyboard has put together instructions on their website walking you through doing the design using Inkscape, a free editing program. My experience with Inkscape has been limited to using it to create vector images when cutting stickers, so when I got started on making a custom set I was almost as lost as someone completely new to the software would be. Their instructions were easy to follow and I was able to put together a design. It took a few different designs before I found something that would work at all, the spacing between keys will make it hard to see some photos. I originally tried using the LanOC Reviews logo, but it didn’t work out.
I settled on a picture of the pyro from TF2 that I sometimes use as my desktop background. Looking back I maybe should have continued to try other designs that might be a little easier to see but for the purpose of this coverage, it fits the bill. I should point out that rather than trying to do a full image like I did, you could do a design that puts a single design on each key as well. For example, like how both keyboards here have the LanOC logo on the escape key.
I think the designs speak for themselves but we should also take a look at the overall quality of the custom keys from WASD Keyboards. I also wanted to touch on the pricing as well. For starters, the printing on both sets are spot on, this is something I was concerned with on the fully printed keycaps especially. We are dealing with UV printing so if you use this keyset all the time you will eventually start to see wear on them. But this is the only way you can do full custom printing. I can really see this coming in handy with case mods, you could print your keycaps to match the PC. Even just having them do standard legends, the only way to do a multi-color keycap layout would be to buy full sets in each keycap color. You might be able to keep the costs down if you only do two colors, but anything beyond that will really rack up the costs. In the end the $50 price tag on these keysets is practically a steal.
They aren’t perfect though. A lot of people will be unhappy that WASD Keyboard using ABS for their keycaps. For me what I noticed more than anything was that the keycaps were without a doubt thinner than the other keycap sets. To be specific the keycaps measured out to .38mm. A few of the novelty keycaps came in around the same thickness but the keycap sets in the previous section were around .44mm. It’s not a HUGE difference, but when using them they do sound louder and feel a little cheaper. It’s not far off from what a lot of manufactures use on their retail keyboards though, but I wanted to make sure I pointed it out.