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The first things you notice on a keyboard are the keycaps. The first thing you notice about the keycaps are probably the colors. In the hobby, there are several different popular colorways and some artisan keycap makers even create their caps to match these popular keycap sets. The colorway is the first impression of the first impression.
What is a colorway?
A colorway is the color scheme of your keycaps. Beyond the usual black, white, or gray, one of the joys of being in the mechanical keyboard hobby is having a unique colors scheme that stands out. Please check out this article for a great example of a well coordinated setup featuring the popular Camping colorway.
Before we dive in and before you start your search for a custom keycap set of your own, I’ll try and spare you some of the frustration I felt when I was picking my first keyset. What makes this hobby so addicting is that there are so many different colorways to choose from. And some of the most sought after keycap sets are seldom stocked and ready-to-ship. You might end up doing tons of research only to find out that the keyset you want is actually a group buy, and it will take months before it even ships out to you.
So where can I find custom keycap sets?
It’s important to note that there ARE websites that readily offer high quality keycap sets and they are great place to start if you are like me and don’t have the patience to wait several months to get something. I purchased my first “boutique” keycap set from Originativeco.com, the GMK Penumbra:
High quality boutique keycap sets
Originative is one of my favorite stores to visit to find high quality keycap sets that are readily available and they typically carry only the highest quality keycap sets. Naturally, with quality comes a higher price tag which is why the community considers these sets “boutique”. You can expect prices ranging between $80 to over $200 for these keycap sets.
Another Keeblogger favorite is Kono.Store. I have a personal connection to Kono since it is where I bought one of my first boards and got me in the hobby in the first place. They are known for facilitating group buys on rare colorways and they stock ready-to-ship keycap sets and keyboards. The WhiteFox Mechanical Keyboard is readily available (currently on sale @ $149.99!) and comes in a minimal black legends on white with blue accents:
Kono.Store is currently running a group buy on another popular colorway shown below. SA Granite is currently on sale and will be ready to ship in December 2019, the colorful modifiers come with the base set so you have the option to go bold or stay minimal:
Help with choosing your colorway
Some of the more popular colorways give your mechanical keyboard a more vintage look such as the “Dolch” Colorway that can be found on PimpMyKeyboard.com (They also carry a bunch of other neat and original colorways)
Fun fact: The “Dolch” colorway is based on the keyboards that came with the rugged portable PC’s produced by a company named Dolch Computer Systems in the early 2000’s.
Vintage colorways usually use greys and beige palettes with desaturated accents like the EnjoyPBT 9009 Keyset you can pick up from www.kbdfans.com:
You may find the same or very similar colorways but produced by different manufacturers. For example, the 9009 colorway above is also available manufactured by GMK (considered “boutique”. I will cover manufactures in a different article).
Some other popular modern colorways include:
You can find more of MiTo’s designs as well as current group buys at www.mitormk.com
Godspeed is definitely one of my personal favorites not only for the color scheme but also the neat space themed novelties and modifier legends. I recently received a novelty set from Drop and have them mounted on my Prime-M macropad that I use for gaming. Here’s a picture!
Also pictured toward the background of the above image is a prototype of my own design, the SMORTCAR Handwired KB. I plan to post an article soon on a build log and tutorial for the SMORTCAR soon so please be on the lookout! The keycaps pictured in the back are /dev/tty keyset with Triumph mods, my personal favorite.
Do you have a favorite colorway that’s just you? Please leave a comment below! I’m always interested in finding new colorways I haven’t seen yet.