Hand Crafted

Acrylic Painting

Product Photography

Adobe Photoshop


A good portion of the mechanical keyboard community focuses on custom and artisan keycaps. In search for a cool cap to adorn my own keyboard, I found a 3D maker shop on Shapeways with an adorable sloth head model. I purchased one in the basic white plastic and used acrylic paint in multiple layers to bring the sloth to life. The addition of googly eyes came with the discovery of a forgotten craft box I'd never unpacked; the eyes were the perfect size to fit in the hollowed out shape that allowed for backlighting.

Original cap and new cap
My original painted keycap and a finished keycap from the group buy.


Upon sharing with the community, I had a good response to others wanting one, and so I contacted the creator of the 3D model with thoughts of running a group buy. Fortunately the creator was enthusiastic about the idea and allowed me a small bulk sale of the printed plastic caps. With these in hand, I propped each MX stem onto a thin wood skewer and stuck these skewers into a small assembly line in floral foam.

I started the process by sanding each to buff out the printer marks. Two layers of off-white primer were applied before going through another light sanding. Using my original painted cap and the reference photos I'd worked off of, I painted base coats of light ochre, burnt sienna, and burnt umber as undercoats to the basic colors of the sloth's facial features and hair. Details were added varying layers of light and dark hues. Each cap was then applied with a layer of semi-gloss clear coat.

A sloth cap among the leaves
A sloth keycap among the leaves.

To approximately half the caps I added the googly eyes. This was done by placing a thin line of super glue around the outer edge of the eye holes and then using a small dab of hot glue to hold the eye in place. Finishing touches around the eyes, nose, mouth, and edges were added before completing the caps with a painted layer of clear coat.

I used these caps as an opportunity to set up a small product shot studio at home. Using an existing shelf on the wall and an unused desk, I purchased white vinyl banner, clamp lights, and old lamp shades. With these I made a rolling backdrop and softboxes. The photos were shot in RAW with my DSLR and edited through Photoshop.

June 2017–July 2017
Copyright © 2018 Laura Cox
Sloth cap in leavesSloth caps with and without googly eyesSloth cap on keyboardSloth cap on leafSloth cap on keyboard side view