Author Topic: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation  (Read 3172 times)

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Offline breusch91

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Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« on: Tue, 14 March 2017, 22:28:49 »
Well its been almost 3 months now of me attempting to create some artisans. So I figured I'd start documenting my process to get some feedback on my designs and general tips on how to proceed.

I jumped into this community almost 7 months ago and from the get go I loved seeing artisan keycaps.  A couple months down the line of trying to enter artisan raffles, people always complaining about flippers, and Artisan makers responding I saw how much these artisans truly cared about their creations and getting them out to the enthusiast that actually want them.  This inspired me and I really started to want to get into making my own. 

One day on mechmarket I was lucky enough to see a synth drop and I jumped at the chance. I never got the amazing steady hands and drawing skills that both of my older brothers did but the creativity was always there. Every year around Christmas we give my mom a calendar, and each month of the calendar includes a hand drawn picture by one of us. You could always pick out which ones were mine, and over the years its evolved into me only drawing 2 or 3 months while they get the rest. They are much much better at drawing then I am! But as I said, I've always been very creative. 

In the beginning of my creations I was using simple designs, things that looked very cartoonish and were generally very easy to make. These can be seen here

163002-0
163004-1

These two sculpts were done using Super Sculpey. Super sculpey is a good starting point, but i personally found a bunch of faults with it for projects this small and for my ability. I was having a ton of trouble adding small details for a few reason. One being that whenever I went to add detail my large hands would inevitably hit something and smoosh it, two being because of how soft it is whenever I tried adding detail I would end up pushing sculpey away to other areas instead of removing a tiny bit, and three I liked to build up my work. By that I mean I like to build a base, sculpt some of the harder parts, bake it so the harder parts couldn't be messed up, then add the easier parts/details and rebake to finish it. The problem with super sculpey is this is very hard to do, the new sculpey does not take well to the baked sculpey and I found pieces would fall off when I was working on them and I'd have to glue them on for them to stay. This became very tedious and annoying. The result was I continued doing easier sculpts like picture Two so that I wouldn't have to deal with this as much.

But then I heard of Cx5! I saw Binge talking about this and decided I had to check it out.  After watching some videos I ordered some and gave it a shot. Let me just tell you this stuff is amazing.  I now feel like I'm actually able to add fine details, I work on certain areas without worrying about smooshing details I added in other places. This leads to me being less frustrated and having more fun.  Another great thing is the ability to build up.  Cx5 is hard at room temps, and begins to liquify when you heat it, this allows me to begin sculpting add some fine details when its a little cooler, then very lightly heat it and add some more Cx5 to continue without fear of the new piece ever falling off since as it cools they form back together. Due to Cx5 being liquid when hot you can also use it to paint on a sculpture, and use it to test cast a new sculpt to see how good the mold actually is and if theres anything you need to change before using resin. Then just melt it all down if you want to start all over again.  Overall it was a godsend and lead to what you see below...

The Cowboy Henchman *name is pending ;-) .

Getting a cowboy hat to actually work on a small keycap was a huge challenge for me and I had to redo it a bunch of times. I still have yet to test the fit but it seems to be within the parameters of the synth so it should work just fine.

163006-2
163008-3
163010-4

I still have a little ways to go with him, he is definitely more detailed then you can make out in the pictures though. I need to add some adjustments to his nose and then may add a little more details in some other areas. But I definitely can see a very big jump from what I was doing with super sculpey to what I only started to do with Cx5.  This was done with a mix of Cx5s (mostly) and a little Cx5h . The plan is to make a mold, cast it with all Cx5h, then add some finer details and be done.  But unfortunately that is where the hard part begins for me.

Getting all the tools together in order to start sculpting was fairly easy, from there its just putting in time until you get a product you like. But finding the right castsing supplies is extremely difficulty.  You need to find the right silicone for molds, you need to find the right resin to cast with, you need to find the right releasing agent (its Manns ease release 200 just go with it its the one thing I actually bought right), you will need to find a pressure pot and air compressor. You'll need supplies like measuring cups, stirrers, syringes, toothpicks, legos/boxes, paper towels, gloves, respirator/masks, and the list goes on. I went with Smooth- On Oomoo 30 to make my silicone molds, and Smooth-On Smooth Cast 325 for my cast. Let me just say I was less then pleased. In all honesty it isn't horrible, but it's not something I would be proud to sell to people.  The Oomoo 30 worked for a cast and then the mold tore, and broke on a very simple sculpt (the second picture up top of the guy with the mustache). The Smooth Cast 325 has an extremely quick pot life (begins setting in 2.5 minutes), but my main problem with it was the appearance after it was set.  The caps came out looking like I had baked play-doh . It didn't look close enough to the high quality look youd see from a Suited Up cap, ETF, Binge, ect.  At least not to me, so it wasn't something I'd put up for sale. So $100 down the drain right there.  I'm currently asking around to other artisans for better options in the U.S.  (NY/ East Coast) but have came up empty so far.  I don't have the money to dump $50 into just consistently trying resins until I find something I like so I really need to do my research and get user reviews from the community before I purchase again.

Well, you've seen what I've been up to and some examples of things I'm working on.  I plan on finishing up the Cowboy and continuing onto other things in the meantime while I research better resins and silicones.  Some quick casting tips for those of you looking to get into this.

Buy a bunch of disposable measuring cups, and stirrers.  I did this off amazon, they were fairly cheap and worked well.  When I first started I used actual measuring cups, and stirrers. Those all got thrown out as it was extremely hard to clean silicone/resin off them and I wouldnt recommend trying to wash a silicone mixture down your sink as you will end up with a clogged sink.
Doubleshots/tripleshots/whatevershots.  Use a toothpick or something really fine to get it into the areas you want, if you spill a little outside do not fret!  One trick i learned from others is to let it dry, then slowly scrape some bits off till you have it perfect, then proceed on to your next color/spot.

Thanks for checking out my post, I'll be updating as I progress. And please if you have any advice, or critiques let me know!


Update 1:
 I've been moving at a snails pace and I'm alright with that.  I've been unmotivated with this for awhile, sometimes thats just how life is, and I didnt just want to work on this for the sake of working on it.  Sculpting keycaps is something I enjoy doing and I didnt want to feel forced to do it for the sake of updates. That tends to lead me to liking what I'm doing less, and also producing something/making changes that I don't really like in the end.  But thankfully that time is over! I did a lot of research and made a bunch of calls and purchased some new resin and silicone and I am currently very happy with it! Ive only done one test cast with the resin but I can tell its quality stuff, I just have to see how well it handles colors.  The new silicone seems to work very well and stretch nicely without tearing, as I said it SEEMS too. I have faith in it but until I'm casting a lot with it I wont really know how well it holds up, but it does seem good so far.

What I've been up to in the Silicone department:

After getting the new silicone in I immediately learned how much weather can affect things. I tried making a silicone mold in my basement which is generally 10 degrees F colder, and more humid then the rest of my house. This turned out horribly. The mold never fully cured and stayed way to pliable and extremely sticky. Not only that but it ended up cracking my Sculpt. Thankfully the crack wasnt directly across the face and it only cracked off some of the sides and the bottom of the chin. I was able to fix it thankfully.

My second attempt was also a failure. DONT RUSH YOURSELF. IF YOU NEED TO RUSH DONT ATTEMPT A CAST. My second attempt I was in a rush for work and wanted to get a mold made before work so that by the time I was home and went to bed Id wake up to a finished mold. Well I completely forget all the techniques I usually do and just poured it fast. I didnt take the time to first paint the silicone onto the sculpt and get it in all the crevices, and I didnt have a high enough pour. The new mold was WAYYY to bubbly to work. BUT the sculpt was unharmed.

My third attempt. Another failure. I did everything that I normally do but it wasnt meant to be. I use a piece of string superglued to the hat to get those rivets on top of the hat, until now its held up. But when I pulled the sculpt out of this mold it was gone, nowhere to be found. The reaction must of melted the glue and pulled it into the silicone somewhere, Idk. but there wasnt any huge bubbles! So it can be a backup in case I ever break my master and need a new one to work from.

My fourth attempt. FINALLY IT WORKS. Got a bubble free first mold done and I was really excited. I was very worried the sculpt was going to break before I could get a successful mold and then I'd be **** out of luck. But it finally worked out for me. heres some pictures of the molds I kept and didnt throw out!
Back up mold
165628-5
Mold I will be moving forward with
165630-6


What I've been up to in the Resin department:

I did my first test cast with the new resin and was extremely pleased with how it came out. The edges are bubbly (this resin is not meant to be used without a pressure pot) but I was impressed with the look and feel of the resin. Next up will be to run some test with colors to see how it handles that. It shouldnt be a problem as the guy I spoke with said it can be colored just fine.  Heres some pictures of the test cast!
165632-7
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165640-11
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What I need to proceed:

I still have a lot of purchases to make. I need to reup on my new silicone and resins as I just bought small test batches and to proceed will need much more.  I also need to purchase a pressure pot, I already know which one I am going with I just need the funding. The good news is I just had a birthday so have some of the money, I get paid on Friday and will be selling some stuff on mechmarket so should be able to come up with the rest.  Also one of my birthday gifts was an air compressor for the pressure pot so at least that other expensive part is already covered!  I will also need more colorant to use with my resins, I currently only have the sample size from an old Smooth on purchase and even if I do like those they will run out very quickly. 

Next update probably wont come for another 1-2 weeks as I have to buy the pressure pot, wait for delivery, then find time to get it set up safe and start doing some cast! But once that happens as long as it doesnt explode moving forward should be much quicker!


Update!:

Good news! My pressure pot and air compressor came, i need to test it, but I should be bubble free within a week!. I also finally found some colorant that I actually like, and some metallic powder I like to spruce things up. Unfortunately the metallic powder broke in the box and was all over it when it arrived, but the customer service was great and theyre sending me a new one along with two small sizes of colorant free!

Bad news.... While waiting for the pressure pot and air compressor I did a lot of test casting. I am very happy with the profile of the KeyBoy, he sits just lower then an SA R3 has enough clearnace on all sides to be used anywhere on your board (at least with my 60% and ergodox that ive tested it on). HOWEVER, Ive noticed that when on a board the key sits very tiny bit slanted. This can be attributed to a very minor stem rotation problem, but mostly its just the dimensions of the face and the base not being completely straight across. Some areas on the right side (like the edge of his hat) just sit slightly higher so once i get that smoothed down and make the base line completely straight it shouldnt be noticable. Heres some pics to give you an idea of what im talking about (as you can see its not horrible but I'm trying my best to make sure I don't release something with fitment/alignment issues as I personally would hate that if I bought an artisan.

166723-13
166725-14
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166731-17

As you can see its not terrible, but its not to my standards. If people really want these I may sell some as B-stock at $15 each due to these issues and some stuff Id like to add to the sculpt ( a part you cant see on the hat at the very back closest to the board isnt as smooth as I'd like, and I'd also like to add my "brand" to the final product, and just some other very minor touch ups), final sculpt price will be ~$30-35.
« Last Edit: Sun, 23 April 2017, 19:43:53 by breusch91 »

Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 14 March 2017, 22:29:21 »
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Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 14 March 2017, 22:29:34 »
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Offline Theconejo

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 20 March 2017, 11:41:18 »
Yeah I'm watching now, apparently I come across your stuff all the time now after chatting about chocolatier.

I was always wondering, do you use a syringe to put separate colors in certain spots, like the eyes and lips of the first cast, before pouring the main color?

Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 21 March 2017, 10:27:27 »
Yeah I'm watching now, apparently I come across your stuff all the time now after chatting about chocolatier.

I was always wondering, do you use a syringe to put separate colors in certain spots, like the eyes and lips of the first cast, before pouring the main color?

It depends on how big the area is that I'm trying put the seperate colors into.  For the larger beard part I could use a syringe, and for the main color that fills most of it I used a syringe.  But for the smallers spots someone recommended I use a toothpick and just dot it on there, it actually fills up pretty quickly and works well.  I was having problems with it dripping in a random spot, its pretty easy to fix this by just waiting for it to harden a bit then scraping it away from the areas you don't want it.  I also purchased some disposable micro tipped applicators to see if they work out better but havn't had the chance to test them.  A toothpick will work just fine for doing doubleshot/multishot cast.

Offline Theconejo

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 22 March 2017, 23:08:52 »
Great to know. I have an idea I might fiddle around with when I get back home. Been eating so much Mexican food here in Venice, ca. I love going to Cali. Keep the updates up In interested in the progression.

Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 12 April 2017, 22:43:06 »
bump, posted an update on my progress :)

Offline Theconejo

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 13 April 2017, 10:05:52 »
Awesome update! Happy belated and can't wait to see more.

The left side of his face, behind his ear, looks like it didn't fill in. Is this where some bubbling happened? When you pour the resin do you pour a certain amount in the face mold and then put the backing(stem end) mold on and press down? Or is the resin you are using thin enough to pour through one of the sprues?

Offline StickyBlueJuice

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 13 April 2017, 11:25:57 »
That's a cool lookin' cowboy. :D
Looking forward to seeing your progress! :thumb:

Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 13 April 2017, 17:00:40 »
That's a cool lookin' cowboy. :D
Looking forward to seeing your progress! :thumb:

Thanks! Im really hoping the colors turn out good, ive already got some names planned and colorways to go along with them. The way Binge over at HWS is doing colorways recently is really inspiring. A lot of cool combos from over there.




Awesome update! Happy belated and can't wait to see more.

The left side of his face, behind his ear, looks like it didn't fill in. Is this where some bubbling happened? When you pour the resin do you pour a certain amount in the face mold and then put the backing(stem end) mold on and press down? Or is the resin you are using thin enough to pour through one of the sprues?

Thanks man! And yea thats just from bubbles that whole bottom part will be solid like you see in the sculpts where theres like a background around his head.  I paint it onto all the nooks (no pressure pot yet so this is mandatory) then I fill a syringe and shove it to the lowest point and slowly fill from there until it hits the stem hole, then add a little extra put the stem in and shove it down and let sit :).
 

Offline breusch91

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 23 April 2017, 20:37:09 »
Updated the op with some new info, pictures of some b-stock caps and problems I noticed with the sculpt.


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Offline CrazyNun

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Re: Magick Productions - Artisan keycap creation
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 29 January 2020, 15:00:11 »
Hey, im just getting started making artisans and came across your post here.  Youe mentioned that you 'were less than happy' with the Smooth Cast 325, but then said you'd switched to a resin that you liked. Which resin was that i'd like to know as i'm on a super tight budget and don't want to be flushing too much money away (I was considerin Smooth Cast 325  325 or 326 before you said you found them bad), though it seems you tend to when making these little things.