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Seraphs: NaNoGenMo2014

Generate a 50,000+ word "book" based on the Voynich Manuscript. On the design and goals for the project.

Book version

A hand-curated book version is available as seraphs.pdf, or a fully laid out book is available for purchase at cost from Blurb.


About the project

Uses the following resources:

  • The Flickr API and Internet Archive Commons account to grab 18th century images based on specific themes like "biology" and "alchemy."
  • Processes the resulting illustrations to match background colors and discard undesirable images.
  • Uses a randomized corpus of the original Voynich Manuscript (from the EVA transcription) remapped to a public domain Voynich-like font.
  • Generates a set of themed "folios" based on the themes from the original manuscript.
  • Converts the output using CSS3 paged media to print-ready PDF (requires a local installation of Prince XML).

The source code in this repository is in the public domain. Note that a mix of commercial and closed-source software is necessary to generate the final output.


Set up a virtual environment:

virtualenv ve

Ensure that you have various image libraries installed (for OS X users, brew install libjpeg and brew install libpng).

Install the dependencies:

. ve/bin/activate
python develop

Get a Flickr API key and add it to a directory called secret:

mkdir secret
cat "FLICKR_KEY = 'YOUR-KEY-HERE'" > secret/

Install PrinceXML ( locally.

Run the program:

python seraphs/

The program should go off and acquire a lot of images from Flickr, randomize them, and generate a PDF somewhere in the 400-page range.

Once it runs, it will cache the resulting images (as local pickle files) in seraphs/cache and pull a random set from those. Delete that directory to re-acquire the assets from Flickr.

The output will be seraphs/build/book.pdf. It will be very large (more than 1 gigabyte).

Example output

Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page


Seraphs: Procedurally generated Voynich Manuscript, produced for NaNoGenMo 2014