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Painting a Mechanical Keyboard with Black 3.0 – Blackest Black!

Painting a Mechanical Keyboard with Black 3.0 – Blackest Black!


So a while back I came across something called
Vantablack, as you do when you roam the internet. And it’s a material that absorbs 99.965%
of visible light. However, you can’t get your hands on that,
as some guy bought it out. And in kind of retaliation, an artist came
up with the black line of paints. And now, we’re up to Black 3.0 which is
the blackest black acrylic paint. And supposedly absorbs UP TO 99% of visible
light. And you see this stuff online, and it looks
crazy. And obviously because my mind is like always
in mechanical keyboard mode, I thought, why not paint a keyboard with it. When you want stuff that’s readily available,
KBDfans is a great place to go. I haven’t tried out their Tofu HHKB, so
I snapped up one of those. This is a hotswap kit, so it comes with the
case, PCB, and stabilisers. And I got the black version just for reference,
so we can see the difference in the end. There’s just 5 Phillips head screws on the
bottom, and it comes apart super easy. And yeh, there’s just 2 parts. So as we can see, the plate is not separate,
so this is an integrated plate design. I can’t paint here at my desk, so let’s
move to the beloved garage which I haven’t filmed in for quite a while. So of course light has a huge impact on how
things look. So even just transitioning between these two
locations, it already looks a bit darker. But yeh, as an anodised finish, it has a bit
of sparkle to it, and reflects light quite a bit. And this would be like the standard sort of
finish you’ll see on black anode boards. But let’s get to painting! They say that you can apply it with a brush,
roll, a spray gun, but I don’t have one. So I went with a nice soft brush which is
really important if you want a somewhat smooth finish. They also say that it’s thinnable with water. Obviously the main concern would be that potentially
it wouldn’t be as dark, but it would provide a smoother finish. For the first test I started with just the
inside, straight onto the anodised finish. And I did water it down quite a bit, but it
seems to be going on relatively well. Although when dried up a bit, it was pretty
streaky. It’s definitely matte, but not dark at all. So I went with a thicker mix. And here’s an example of lighting. My light actually went out, and I had the
garage doors open, so it was mainly natural light, and clouds come by and stuff. And it looks very black in this particular
shot. Okay, so I let it dry for just a few hours. So the bottom section was with it quite watered
down, and there’s a difference. However, this is only the first coat, so we’d
be going over that anyway. I have spray painted a bunch of boards before,
and normally I use primer which is an undercoat that promotes adhesion. So it sticks to nearly everything, and there’s
different types, and yeh, it gives the paint a surface to stick to really well, and therefore
is more durable. This time I just added a little bit of water
just to make it smoother. But the good thing about this is that when
it dries up, it kind of evens out because it’s so dark. Alright, this is after 2 coats, but close
to each other, so no real resting time in between. But it doesn’t look great to me. It’s matte, so it’s not sparkling anymore. But it just looks like matte black to me,
not particularly dark, and no where near what I’ve seen on the internet. But apparently it gets darker the longer you
leave it. Even just comparing it to the bottle, you
can really tell that it’s not that deep. Although the bottle isn’t actually that
dark, it’s just that a lot of light is hitting it on the other side. But still. New day, time for more paint. Honestly, I wasn’t really keeping it consistent
in regards to the mixture ratio. I was experimenting, and to be honest, it
didn’t make much difference, whether I went on thick or thin, it pretty much resulted
in the same level of darkness. And again here’s another example. So depending on the light, one finish looks
darker than the other. We’ll get back to that at the end, but at
the same time I was painting the keycaps. Agesss ago, I bought some of these keycap
trays, which I’ve used like once for hydrodipping. And finally they’ve become useful again. I got a set of EPBT black blank keycaps, also
from KBDfans. Black, again for reference. And it was just the same process. I think I may have even done like 4 or 5 coats,
with a considerable amount of time in between. Again, testing different mixes. But I did not prime the caps. And to add to that, I did like another 2 or
3 coats on the aluminium as well, because I just wasn’t getting what I wanted. But whatever, let’s put it together. One of the main reasons I got this kit, besides
the pretty affordable price, is that it’s hotswap. Just saves me a little bit of time for something
that I legit won’t really use, because it’s so delicate. You can’t put any clear coat on top because
it will ruin the finish and effect, and it scratches super easily, even when typing and
your fingernails make a mark on the keycaps. So yeh, didn’t particularly care about how
this types out. That being said, to match the stealthy theme,
the only appropriate switch in my opinion were Gateron Silent Black Ink’s, which I
also lubed and filmed just because. And like right now, it looks pretty cool. As seen, there are screws that allow you to
screw the PCB to the plate, which did make it easier to push the keyswitches in. You can remove those screws afterwards because
the switches will hold everything in place, and it may potentially provide a more even
typing experience without those screws in. Well, it’s certainly really black, and really
dark. It’s by far the darkest keyboard I’ve
come across ever. And I haven’t seen anything like it. The super stealthy aesthetic looks awesome
on the desk. Of course having no legends on the keycaps
comes into play, but yeh. Love it. However, I think it’s very fair to say that
I am a bit underwhelmed by the result. And this is just from the hype built up from
seeing other projects painted with this stuff. I knew that it would be a bit much to expect
complete darkness, and that’s fine. But I did want the keycaps to blend more together. Like having them less distinguishable really
would have been an amazing look. But it still does that better than any other
keycaps, and to be fair, they did say UP TO 99%. Let’s make some quick comparisons. Compared to the original keycaps, the difference
is absolutely massive, but they were pretty grey to begin with. Comparing it to GMK White on Black, it’s
hard to compare the actual colour, but it’s clear how it doesn’t really reflect light. But on certain angles, you can kinda tell
that the Black 3.0 looks a little greyish. But again, it’s difficult to compare, because
it’s matte versus satin. It does have that soft matte feel as well,
having a very slight rough texture. But even applying it with a brush, it looks
quite even. The aluminium in my eyes looks to be pretty
much the same colour. Just as dark. However the streaking is more noticeable here
because of its larger surface area. Like the bottom looks pretty bad, showing
a bunch of fingerprints as well. But we can really change its appearance with
the lighting. In dim lighting, especially on camera, it
does look even darker, obviously. I think part of the problem is the material. It’s solid aluminium, so in my head it doesn’t
really soak it up at all I guess. Like on many examples, because it’s more
of an artistic sort of product, they used on it on paper, canvas, foam, stuff like that. So perhaps that had something to do with it. As for the keyboard itself. It’s pretty nice. All aluminium construction of course, and
for a reasonable price of 159USD. It features an integrated plate design, so
it is slightly stiffer, as there’s like no flex to the plate. And that isn’t really the best for silent
switches in my opinion, as that hardness translates to more sound. I had some good fun with this. It did take a few days to paint, and I kept
going over it hoping it would get better. But it was really easy, nothing stressful,
and the paint dries very quick to the touch. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing this,
the paint is pretty expensive, and I basically made this keyboard unusable, as touching it
ruins the whole point of doing it. Still is something that’s really cool to
look at though. It’s as stealthy of a board as you’ll
ever see, so I’m proud of having that. There’s more DIY stuff coming, so stay tuned
for that, and let me know what you think!

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100 thoughts on “Painting a Mechanical Keyboard with Black 3.0 – Blackest Black!

  1. Aight, getting some common comments. Unfortunately I didn't use a spray gun, because I didn't have one, and thought the blackness would mend that at the time. With sanding and priming and stuff, yep, I've painted a heap of boards before. As for the water, they say on the product page itself that you can dilute it. However I did experiment with different mixtures, and in the end for the final coat I actually didn't use water at all. However there was no noticeable difference which was interesting.

    And most importantly, it was just for fun, and just for me. As I can't put a clear coat over it, it's not something I will use. I'm well aware of all your concerns, so yeh, hope that explains a bit! 🥰🥰🥰

  2. your getting streaks because your going over and over it with the brush and you dont have enough paint on the brush…you gotta keep paint on the brush same thing if your painting a house, or anything with a brush or roller, and idk if they apply a clear coat too the board or not when they paint it but by the looks of it they did because the acrylic kept looking like it was drying up when you were going over the same spot over and over again,. i bet you that sanding would have been a better path too take first, but im sure you just wanted too get going on the thing already esp since it was already black underneath.

  3. Tae[ha] in the morning, Tae in the arvo. I love your production quality and it always feels good to have a relevant channel based in aus 🙂

  4. I have this paint and it is not actually blackest, I have one matt acrylic gouache that is darker and more mat (also more expensive). And this paint is not good st all, so you did nothing wrong, paint is just bad quality. It is just not as black as they advertise. I measured it and was 97%, not the 99% they say.

  5. White backlighting would be nice AF on that and maybe next time sand the frame and use a spray gun but still nice.

  6. Nice! I was thinking about how BLACK 3.0 would look on various keyboard parts. I was looking into methods of coloring a brass plate black outside of Cerakote or DuraCoat. Reading that BLACK 3.0 was rather fragile in terms of touch, I had decided to go with brass blackener fluid, but it is fascinating to see the actual effect of BLACK 3.0 on an actual full build–

  7. It IS pretty BLACK though…I mean if you expected a black hole opening on your desk then yeah…that's not it but otherwise I'd say it's great!

  8. Great job man. As always your work doesn't disappoint. I am now inspired to paint my old tecware phantom :D. Question though, which way of painting will give you the best result, spray gun or brush? This will be my first time painting a keyboard 😀

  9. I'd love to make my own mechanical keyboard, but I don't even have a proper pc that I could use it with… Plus the parts aren't exactly the cheapest 🙁

  10. He keep saying his "unsatisfied, underwhelming, its just matte finish" DUDE I CANT FUCKING SEE!!! I ACTUALLY HAD TO ADJUST THE BRIGHTNESS TO SEE THE COMPARISON!

  11. The photography and match with the music when you were showcasing the final product was breathtaking. You have a gift!

  12. Since this is a video about painting a keyboard… How can I paint my GMMK ? I want to paint it white to make it look better with my set up

  13. I want to see it with rgb, probably would be crazy, like you only see the leds like the keys are floating or something like that

  14. Stuart Temple (maker of black 3.0) should see this. The way it makes all these different sides and edges just merge into a flat plane looking thing

  15. I have seen your pinned comment. Did you consider spraying some matte varnish after retouching the side of the keycaps ? It looks like your finger oil is getting in the acrylic paint, making it shiny.

  16. I bet if it was used on a hobby compressor spray paint, the finish could look a bit better (if it's ok to use it on one tho).

  17. i feel like you could have had more success with spray painted finish. Maybe should have rented a spray gun or something

  18. Did the same, but your results are definitely better than mine. Also your keycaps make it look even blacker, I sticked to my previous /dev/tty.

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