I’ve had a lot of great feedback about my custom designed keyboard from WASD Keyboard both online and in person. Since the inspiration for my keyboard, ADOM, is getting a refresh Indigogo campaign, I thought now might be a great time to revisit things.
First of all, how does the keyboard wear over time? Here’s what it looked like when it was new:
And here’s what it looks like now:
Clearly my lighting is not optimal, but the important thing to notice is that the frequently used black keys are fading out. Especially noticeable on the shift and enter keys, the images are on their way to disappearing entirely. This in sharp contrast to the rest of the colors, all of which are still vibrant and sharp, including the home row keys.
My theory is that due to the burning process, the black keys are not scorched as deeply as the rest of the colors and therefor it doesn’t take much physical wear to remove the images. Advice: don’t use black for keys you’ll use a lot.
As far as the mechanical aspects go, this keyboard has held up really well! It’s as smooth and fun to use as the day I got it in the mail, and I suspect it will be for a long time to come.
Click on through to see some details on creating the layout for the board!
As I discussed previously, the icons represent actions in my favorite game ADOM, which is notorious for having what some would call too many keyboard commands. The icons themselves came from a fellow called Lorc who provided them Creative Commons style on a reddit post.
With motivation and opportunity taken care of, we’re down to the question of “how” the layout was made.
CorelDRAW allowed me to work with the vector graphics that both the WASD layout and the Lorc icon set are built with. All of the layout and sizing of the images was done in CorelDRAW, while any fine editing or manipulation was done in PaintShop Pro. I find both of these tools quite easy to use and having all the power of similar more expensive products. They’re my go-to set for graphics work.
Here’s what the icon layer looked like once I was finished:
While most of the icons were used with only resizing, there are a few that took some fiddling with to get just right. Some of these are as follows:
- The Caps Lock key features a bunch of little spears and a large banner. In order to fit the key, I copy-pasted the little spears, but did so in a non-uniform manner to give a more natural look to them.
- The numpad’s Enter key is a combination and copy-paste job from a couple different icons to create a cloud dropping snow on someone.
- The Space Bar features a battle between two spaceships. For this one I had to modify the proportions and then add in more lines for laser fire to fill the space out. It wasn’t until after the keyboard arrived that I realized I’d made a pun by having space ships fight on the space bar…
- The left Shift key is a simple combination of two relevant icons.
- The right Shift key is a combination of three icons, one for the robot, one for the lightning, and one for the electropod. In addition, the robot’s outstretched arm was originally by its side like the other, so it was rotated and moved into the proper position. The entire robot was also skewed to lean into the lightning blast.
- The Arrow keys and the arrows on the Numpad are simple rotations of the same image.
- The Zero key on the numpad is a pretty obvious copy-paste-resize job on a tree icon. I also mirrored a couple of the trees to change it up slightly.
- My favorite of all: the I key! Representing your inventory in ADOM, it’s a combination of parts of several different icons. The primary bag was a standalone icon, which I then filled with all sorts of adventuring gear. Not only does it show off how prepared an adventurer must be, it also demonstrates the very high precision and quality of the WASD process.
In order to see what it would look like when it was done, I used a screen cap of my color layout as a working background:
If you want the CorelDRAW layout file, you can get it here.
When you’re working with the template file, there’s a border for every key, but it’s just for a guideline, it’s not part of the actual image. The icon layout above was directly exported from the layout file and the background keyboard lines don’t export with it. This means that if you’re working with the template file, you don’t have to worry about those background lines at all.
Hope you all have a great time designing and using your WASD keyboards, I’m pretty sure a second one for work is around the corner for me