Author Topic: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?  (Read 9582 times)

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Offline Sonikbotnik

  • Formerly zorodude
  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Toronto
Hi all. I'm undertaking the r&d of a keycap design rendering app/tool/utility. I'm not calling it an app just yet, because I'd like to approach this with appropriate design thinking methodology, and start off on the right foot. That means gathering data and research.

The issue:
There is currently a barrier to entry to design a custom keycap set. Yes, the designer should possess a requisite knowledge of material, tooling, shapes etc. But I believe anyone should be able to create a presentable colour set without needing to learn CAD to accomplish it.

So to get the ball rolling, I have a survey I'd like you to fill out:

If you successfully launched a set of keycaps from start to finish, please fill out this survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7V-jZgT7TY_2e2WlHdX1qewgW15AISJ6QQJWAFg6Bk0T0kQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

If you have not launched a set, but you'd like to, fill out this survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7wj66d3sP89Fdpt2Jj9T14pkdVP9A8F5GFU1-9VNKqX4IVg/viewform?usp=sf_link

I'll follow up with key insights, and next steps.

In the meantime, I'd appreciate growing this thread with any tools you know of that in some way help designing keycaps. For example:

- keyboard layout editor http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/ - where it all begins
- http://kle-render.herokuapp.com/ - server-side 2d render by CQ_Cumbers
- kbrenders(https://kbrenders.herokuapp.com/) - server-side photorealistic renderers by CQ_Cumbers
- blender (https://www.blender.org/) - open source polygon modeller


Looking forward to making something great with you folks. For a bit of history, see this thread https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=93494.0.
« Last Edit: Wed, 07 March 2018, 23:06:34 by zorodude »

Offline noSatellite

  • Posts: 45
  • perpetual n00b
This could not have come at a better time for me - I was just playing around with rendering tools today, as I try to get an idea into shape.

Thanks for this!

If you would, can you recommend some sources for Blender? I got familiar with 3DS Max a few years ago, but my license has lapsed and I plan to start down th Blender path soon.
What I lack in time, resources, and knowledge I make up for in passion, enthusiasm and ignorance.

Offline DMacKB

  • Posts: 34
Heya Zoro there’s also KLE Blender, a plugin to turn kle json into keyboards in blender.

https://github.com/Kirpal/Keyboard-Layout-Editor-for-Blender

I want to write a plugin for Marmoset Toolbag to integrate with it for realtime renders.

Offline Sonikbotnik

  • Formerly zorodude
  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Toronto
Heya Zoro there’s also KLE Blender, a plugin to turn kle json into keyboards in blender.

https://github.com/Kirpal/Keyboard-Layout-Editor-for-Blender

I want to write a plugin for Marmoset Toolbag to integrate with it for realtime renders.
Hey DMacKB,

I haven't kept up with CAD software for a number of years. Where does Marmoset sit in the competitive market? What language do they support for plugins? And what exactly do you mean by real-time rendering?

Sent from my G3123 using Tapatalk


Offline DMacKB

  • Posts: 34
Marmoset is what a lot of game artists use for look development: applying materials and maps to a model and lighting it with hdr environment images and regular lights. Then you can add pst effects including realtime Gi and reflections.

Realtime just means that it’s the sort of rendering used in games rather than films, so a light scene will run very smooth if you have a good gpu. You can go ham though and slow it down to a few frames a second if u add a lot. Final render can be hi res and lots of samples to get a very nice result.

Offline OxC0FFEE

  • Posts: 5
  • Location: United States
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 09 September 2019, 05:18:39 »
Hey @zorodude did you make any progress with this? Curious because I think it would fill a common need in the community.

Offline zslane

  • Posts: 2243
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 09 September 2019, 11:38:58 »
Quote
But I believe anyone should be able to create a presentable colour set without needing to learn CAD to accomplish it.

I agree with the above sentiment, however, I think the recent deluge of GMK "ICs" clearly demonstrates that the tools were never the problem.

Offline _rubik

  • Posts: 652
  • Location: 192.168.x.x
  • Typing on: Mech27, Greetech Blacks, GMK Jamon
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 09 September 2019, 12:02:54 »
Quote
But I believe anyone should be able to create a presentable colour set without needing to learn CAD to accomplish it.

I agree with the above sentiment, however, I think the recent deluge of GMK "ICs" clearly demonstrates that the tools were never the problem.

Is that such a problem though? I mean, if the IC's make it to a GB that means there is some demand for it. And if new designers who don't know CAD actually have good ideas, we want to hear about them. It's just those "ICs" you mention that are a problem...

Offline zslane

  • Posts: 2243
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 10 September 2019, 12:01:08 »
Is that such a problem though?

That's a fair question.

I'd say the problem this causes is primarily in the form of profoundly decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio in IC forums. The GeekHack IC forum has become so saturated with noise that I have stopped even looking at it anymore. That means that the rare few "good ones" are always in danger of missing potential customers/supporters simply because they get drowned out by the garbage.

Sometimes a high barrier to entry is a good thing. When it takes a degree of dedication, perseverance, and skill/talent to do something worthwhile, the resulting work tends to be more worthwhile (with the converse also being true).

Offline _rubik

  • Posts: 652
  • Location: 192.168.x.x
  • Typing on: Mech27, Greetech Blacks, GMK Jamon
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 10 September 2019, 12:33:08 »
Is that such a problem though?

That's a fair question.

I'd say the problem this causes is primarily in the form of profoundly decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio in IC forums. The GeekHack IC forum has become so saturated with noise that I have stopped even looking at it anymore. That means that the rare few "good ones" are always in danger of missing potential customers/supporters simply because they get drowned out by the garbage.

Sometimes a high barrier to entry is a good thing. When it takes a degree of dedication, perseverance, and skill/talent to do something worthwhile, the resulting work tends to be more worthwhile (with the converse also being true).

I know what you mean. My gut reaction was to filter ICs by response count, but that includes ICs going back to 2013. Maybe we mirror only active ICs to a separate 'community'?

Or maybe we could work on getting dedicated, 'pro-tier' designers a star or something -- some way to filter the noise. New designers could get one by shipping a GB that reaches some target MOQ?

Spitballing here, but with an ever-growing hobby, we need a better organization system that cuts through the chaff (ie. filter by hot/new/top).

Offline Greywolf

  • Posts: 9
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 06 December 2019, 17:41:01 »
I apologise for my Stoopid™ questions here; I'm assuming 'GB' is Group Buy, but 'IC' could be Integrated Circuit or Initial Concept -- could I assume the latter?

Also, I'm reeeehehehallly a noob here -- been in computers for 40 years and have recently been bitten by the keycap bug and am in process of designing/building a custom keyboard with some retro-geeky keycaps.  What does it take to get a keycap set vetted?  What is usual MOQ for a keyset?  [I'm trying to determine whether I'm going to eat the cost of having a nice SA set made or if I'll be able to find similarly geeky minds...]

...and I'm also just starting to experiment with the suggestions made here for rendering (thank you to the people who are asking the questions as well as to those who are answering them!).

Gist URL for the layout if you're interested (subject to change):  http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/5a00f2dd7f83324302ae3cf055595516

Offline dvorcol

  • Posts: 1270
  • Location: Michigan
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 06 December 2019, 19:47:46 »
I apologise for my Stoopid™ questions here; I'm assuming 'GB' is Group Buy, but 'IC' could be Integrated Circuit or Initial Concept -- could I assume the latter?

Also, I'm reeeehehehallly a noob here -- been in computers for 40 years and have recently been bitten by the keycap bug and am in process of designing/building a custom keyboard with some retro-geeky keycaps.  What does it take to get a keycap set vetted?  What is usual MOQ for a keyset?  [I'm trying to determine whether I'm going to eat the cost of having a nice SA set made or if I'll be able to find similarly geeky minds...]

...and I'm also just starting to experiment with the suggestions made here for rendering (thank you to the people who are asking the questions as well as to those who are answering them!).

Gist URL for the layout if you're interested (subject to change):  http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/5a00f2dd7f83324302ae3cf055595516

Welcome to the mechanical keyboard community!  IC = interest check.

The cost of custom keycaps goes down as production volume increases.  Different manufacturers have different cost models.  Although I have never designed/sold a cuskeycap set, I think this is roughly how it begins:  The designer decides a theme and a keycap profile, uses their own experience and/or previous GBs to decide what kits they want to offer and the specific contents of each kit, runs an IC to get a feel for community interest and kit content suggestions, and then gets a quote from their chosen manufacturer.  The quote includes price breaks at larger volumes, and the designer balances prices with likely number of kit orders to decide each kit's MOQ.

You might want to peruse previous group buys to see what's common.  In addition to Geekhack, I recommend exploring Matrixzj's archive: https://matrixzj.github.io/

Oblotzky's GMK ASCII set features the legends in your concept.  Its group buy is currently running, ending February 16th.

GMK ASCII's base kit:
« Last Edit: Fri, 06 December 2019, 20:56:28 by dvorcol »

Offline Greywolf

  • Posts: 9
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 06 December 2019, 21:38:40 »

Welcome to the mechanical keyboard community!  IC = interest check.

The cost of custom keycaps goes down as production volume increases.  Different manufacturers have different cost models.  Although I have never designed/sold a cuskeycap set, I think this is roughly how it begins:  The designer decides a theme and a keycap profile, uses their own experience and/or previous GBs to decide what kits they want to offer and the specific contents of each kit, runs an IC to get a feel for community interest and kit content suggestions, and then gets a quote from their chosen manufacturer.  The quote includes price breaks at larger volumes, and the designer balances prices with likely number of kit orders to decide each kit's MOQ.

You might want to peruse previous group buys to see what's common.  In addition to Geekhack, I recommend exploring Matrixzj's archive: https://matrixzj.github.io/


So...where / how would I run an interest check?

Also -- I see the commonality in that particular keyset with my idea, but I have other oddities that would love to see production ("line feed", various other legends on the function keys; a colour theme (I'm playing with several at the moment), and I'm a huge sucker for the Gorton/Gorton Modified fonts on the keys).

[I'm sure I'd have to produce some keys in other sizes as well, but I'm loath to modify the legends by much if I don't have to.]

Offline dvorcol

  • Posts: 1270
  • Location: Michigan
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 06 December 2019, 22:43:23 »

Welcome to the mechanical keyboard community!  IC = interest check.

The cost of custom keycaps goes down as production volume increases.  Different manufacturers have different cost models.  Although I have never designed/sold a cuskeycap set, I think this is roughly how it begins:  The designer decides a theme and a keycap profile, uses their own experience and/or previous GBs to decide what kits they want to offer and the specific contents of each kit, runs an IC to get a feel for community interest and kit content suggestions, and then gets a quote from their chosen manufacturer.  The quote includes price breaks at larger volumes, and the designer balances prices with likely number of kit orders to decide each kit's MOQ.

You might want to peruse previous group buys to see what's common.  In addition to Geekhack, I recommend exploring Matrixzj's archive: https://matrixzj.github.io/


So...where / how would I run an interest check?

Also -- I see the commonality in that particular keyset with my idea, but I have other oddities that would love to see production ("line feed", various other legends on the function keys; a colour theme (I'm playing with several at the moment), and I'm a huge sucker for the Gorton/Gorton Modified fonts on the keys).

[I'm sure I'd have to produce some keys in other sizes as well, but I'm loath to modify the legends by much if I don't have to.]

You can start an IC on Geekhack.  I've never run one, but checking out the existing ICs should help.  You can find ICs on the Geekhack homepage (left side of image), and the advanced search function gives a good summary of all Geekhack's topics (right side of image).  Hope this helps, and good luck!


Offline JinTea

  • Posts: 10
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: (Keycap Render Tool) Research: Do you want / have you ever made a keycap set?
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 10 December 2019, 20:28:36 »
Is that such a problem though?

That's a fair question.

I'd say the problem this causes is primarily in the form of profoundly decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio in IC forums. The GeekHack IC forum has become so saturated with noise that I have stopped even looking at it anymore. That means that the rare few "good ones" are always in danger of missing potential customers/supporters simply because they get drowned out by the garbage.

Sometimes a high barrier to entry is a good thing. When it takes a degree of dedication, perseverance, and skill/talent to do something worthwhile, the resulting work tends to be more worthwhile (with the converse also being true).

Agreed with this. The thing is new barriers to entry will always develop once one barrier (like the ability to get proper keycap renders) falls. The market becomes saturated, and a new barrier to entry other than specialized knowledge starts kicking in. Usually in the form of popularity or a developed network for markets that have relatively no barriers at all.

Keeping a market in any industry healthy is really difficult, as there's usually an incentive for the individual/group to provide a unique service to lower that barrier.