This month’s interview is with TJ Trewin, World Anvils’s dashing designer and CSS wizard!
One of my favorite parts of doing the interviews of my fellow Anvilites is having an excuse to just poke around on visually stunning worlds. I can get so caught up in my own world, I don’t look outside as much as I’d like. That said, I’ve followed TJ’s world for a while and had his name on my docket for this month, but after he did a recent redesign and started the header-bar trend I felt like the planets aligned giving me (and all of you) a perfect time to get to know him and his world of Melior better.
So without further ado, I’ll let TJ do the talking!
What we’ll cover:
Tell us a bit about you and your WA worlds. What made you start your worlds?
The world of Melior is an accumulation of all of my worldbuilding so far. Originally, I started with a small handful of worlds in different genres, but I never really felt satisfied with any of them.
This lead me to sit down, tear out the best bits from each, and start the creation of Melior. (P.S. did you know that the name of the world, Melior, comes from the word ameliorate – to make something bad or unsatisfactory better)
Melior is a dark fantasy world, in which two continental superpowers wage a brutal war of science and magic. Each land thinks the other lives in chaos and blasphemy, but with passages opening into mysterious realms, Melior is about to get a taste of real chaos. Instead of setting their differences aside for the good of the world, the two nations now race to be the first to conquer these new planes.
How long have you been world building? How long have you been on WA?
I’m fairly new on the scene when it comes to worldbuilding itself (compared to other folks who have been playing TTRPGs for years)!
I actually came across worldbuilding in 2015 from picking up Keri Smith’s book called ‘The Imaginary World of ______’. Much like her best-seller ‘Wreck This Journal’ it’s a book that gives you prompts of inspiration that you can then fill in. From there I discovered the joys of the /r/worldbuilding subreddit, Artifexian’s YouTube channel, and eventually World Anvil!
I’ve been on World Anvil since 14th November 2017 (WA was barely a month old!) and kind of haven’t ever left… Have I even logged out since then?
What do you consider to be the most outstanding aspect of your world(s)?
vaguely gestures at world https://www.worldanvil.com/w/Melior All of it! Is that an answer? Well, I think from my personal view I am most proud of the presentation of my world. Not just one part of it, but how it all works together: the custom CSS, the logo design, the imagery and headers I create, and the layout of the articles themselves, too!
TJ’s Top Three:
- https://www.worldanvil.com/w/Melior/a/the-brass-bowl (my favourite header image)
- https://www.worldanvil.com/w/Melior/a/the-swordmasters-fair (most fun to write)
- https://www.worldanvil.com/w/Melior/a/pine-coins (I just like shiny things)
Do you consider yourself a gamer, a writer, an artist, simply a world builder, a mix, or something else entirely?
I am a creative polymath and lifelong learner. Worldbuilding is an outlet that encompasses many of my creative endeavours such as: graphic design, illustration, mapmaking, CSS, photo manipulation, the list could literally go on forever – I think that’s what I like most about worldbuilding, you can use it as a playground for trying new things.
What got you involved in world building and what are your specialties or favorite world building topics?
My favourite part of worldbuilding is coming up with weird topics. Weird stuff is fun, quirky and (most importantly) memorable. It makes people come back for more, ask a tonne of questions about it and keeps the ball rolling when it comes to writing new ideas.
Why did you start customizing your world?
BECAUSE I CAN!!! As soon as I could get my hands on that tasty CSS code I went to town and changed literally e v e r y t h i n g. It’s not that I didn’t like the default theme (there was only that one available when I joined) but I wanted to see how everything worked and truly make my world my own. And to show off. Let’s be honest – I love to make shiny things and show them off!
One of my favourite things about custom CSS is that, with the Sage guild member perk of whitelabelling, I can hide the default World Anvil header and footer branding on my world. This makes it look super tidy as it is, BUT I recently added my own custom header that matches my website and shop (https://shop.melior64.com/) , so that you can easily navigate between the sites and it still feels like home.
I made this header bigger on the homepage of my world, but smaller and distraction-free on articles so that it’s not so in-your-face.
How important is the look of your world(s) to your readers?
The design & aesthetics of a world are the most important things to me, ever. So if I feel that way, other folks must too, right?
A custom CSS theme, logo, header image, and even layout can immediately tell me so much more about the world I’m browsing on World Anvil. You can see from a second what genre and vibes it’s giving off, and with images it adds a greater depth to the article that words alone couldn’t describe to me.
Are you a programmer by trade or education? Did you know CSS before coming to World Anvil?
As a graphic designer I had dabbled in web design previously, but I learned most of my tricks from spending my teenage years modifying HTML and CSS ‘skins’ for PHPBB and Invision Power Board forums (which were also the small communities I learnt how to use Photoshop in!), so I did have some baseline understanding of how to use code make things pretty.
I have learnt a great deal along the way though and still have much to improve on!
Don’t feel daunted if you’re looking to start – check out the tutorials on the World Anvil Codex, learn how to use your web browser’s Inspect Element tool, and hop into the World Anvil Discord to ask for help!
I was poking around more in Melior. Aside from your amazing design, can you tell us more about the origin of Melior? I get this wonderful sense of whimsy as I read about the inhabitants and mixed with the dark overtone of the chaos to come.
I really like the idea of each faction thinking that they are the purest, and their opponents are the chaotic ones. The Jolundrian map of Melior is Auricentric (basically the north pole is in the middle). The Jolundrians firmly believe that they are the center of the world, because the compass is pulled towards the greatest source of ancient magical power.
The continent of Melopia has a greater scientific approach and their maps are depicted more like ours with the poles at the top and bottom.
Do you have a tip or snippet of commented CSS or BBcode to share for the readers?
Nope. Instead I’d prefer to give a design life pro tip for you to try out when you are next poking your CSS (or article layout, even without fancy CSS!).
Learn about visual hierarchy. In essence, it’s the order in which we see things and process them. When you look at this blog post, where is your attention drawn to first? Probably the largest, boldest text, or a large image!
You can use this method to make your world (be it the CSS theme, or the article layout) easier to read, visually engaging and memorable to your audience. For those of you who are aiming to monetize your worlds (for your Kickstarter, Patreon, upcoming book, or game release) this is an essential tool for leading your audience to a promotional call to action.
This is a neat introductory video on the basics of visual hierarchy if you want to know more: https://youtu.be/ZXItTIjC0Wk (or if you prefer, the blog version is here: https://visme.co/blog/visual-hierarchy/ )
Make sure to check out the World Anvil Codex for all the latest tips & tricks on formatting & layout!
How should people reach you with questions?
You can reach me anywhere on social media @melior64 (I’m most active on Twitter, but feel free to follow me on your favourite platform!)
You can also ping me in the World Anvil Discord server (or in DMs) @TJ#7507
I’m always happy to help with design, layout & CSS pointers! I am also available for custom World Anvil theme commissions!
- We’ll start 2020 out with a cheat sheet for using bootstrap classes.
Make Your World Look Awesome!
Thank you so much for sharing, TJ!
Readers, please let us know how you use these ideas and tell him that you appreciated the interview and tips.
Until next time, my fellow smiths. Go light up the forge!