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How to record your art | Cheap (overhead) phone setup

Always wanted to record your art as they do on Instagram- but don’t know where to start? Well, you’re about to learn!

Recording your art can be easily done by using your phone. You don’t need to use a fancy expensive camera. Almost every phone nowadays films in a high enough quality for you to upload to Instagram and Youtube (or any other social media).

Keep reading to learn how to set up your recording area without spending big bucks!

How to record your art

If you want to record your art to create art videos you need the following things:

  • A camera
  • Well lit surface
  • Something that holds your camera
  • Editing software

Camera for recording art

A camera to record your art can either be a digital camera (you know one of those photography cameras like a Nikon), a camcorder, or simply your phone. I’ve tested all three of them and let me tell you, your phone camera is the best to record your art.

The problem with a digital camera is that a digital camera is made to take pictures and not film. This means that most photography cameras, like my Nikon, can only film up to 20 minutes.

how to record your art

Pros and cons of a digital camera for filming

We all know that drawing and or painting takes way longer than 20 minutes. The biggest disadvantage I had when filming with a digital camera was:

  • A maximum of 20 minutes of recording
  • The camera doesn’t tell you when it stops recording

But a digital camera does have some pros:

  • You can manually change the shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO
    • Meaning you can easily change the blurriness of the background
  • Because of its big lens, you don’t need as much light as with a camcorder

A camcorder is great because it’s been made to film for a long time. The downside is that you cannot change any setting on the fly like a digital camera. You must do this before you film. Another downside is that because the lens is smaller you need more light to avoid pixelation.

how to record your art

Your phone, however, can record for a long period of time and, in my opinion, doesn’t need as much light as a camcorder.

DSLR cameraCamcorderPhone
Time filmingShort periodsLong periodsLong periods but may overheat
Customizing optionsMost options to adjustFewer options to adjustAlmost no option to adjust
Lighting needsNeeds enough lightNeeds more lightNeeds normal amount of light
Best camera to film art videos:2/54/54/5

Another huge advantage of using a phone is: you already have one.

So for me, phone wins.

Well lit surface

Because you’re recording your creative process your viewers need to see what you’re doing. Since your viewers are artists and art lovers, you can assume they are visually aesthetic lovers. Meaning that the basic requirement to record a popular video is a well-lit canvas.

You can easily do this by sitting in front of a window. Just keep in mind that when you make a sped-up video the movement of the sun and clouds will be noticeable.

The changing sun and clouds can be neglected when the video is shown in real-time.

Another option is to buy studio lights. When buying them, go for daylight lamps. The color temperature should be around 5500 K. This avoids the yellow tint that most interior lamps have.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the best art videos have as little shadow in them. Studio lights often come with a diffuser that takes care of this problem. This light is a great option to have in your studio:

Camera set up to record art videos

If you want to film your art with your phone you’ll need something that holds your phone. This can either be a person, a tripod with a phone holder, or a specialized product for overhead shots.

The camera rig setup is where you need to spend some money. That is if you don’t let anyone film for you.

I recommend the overhead video phone holder:

You can simply mount the phone holder to your desk and use it as an overhead phone setup. It only costs $25,99 and has over 4,000 4+ star reviews.

Another option is to buy a tripod. Some tripods can film overhead as well. But they tend to be more expensive.

Filming at an angle is also a popular way of recording your art. For this, you can use the Sensyne 62″ Phone Tripod & Selfie Stick:

It also comes with a wireless remote (!!) for the price of only $15,99!

How to film art videos with your phone

Once you picked out your camera setup, you’ll notice that it’s hard, if not impossible, to keep looking at your screen to see if your work is in shot. To make things easier you can use your computer as a monitor to see what your phone films.

To do this you need to install a software program called OBS. OBS is a free software program for Windows, iOs, and Linux, which can use for streaming and recording videos.

Unfortunately, you cannot directly plug in your phone to use as a camera. To do this, you need to use the app Camo.

Here’s a video by Video Creation Simplified explaining how to use Camo with OBS:

The advantage of using OBS is that the footage will be directly saved to your computer. So if you, like me, have no space left on your phone you can simply save the footage directly to your pc.

Oh, and if you find all of this a hassle you can simply just press record on your phone without using extra software of course :’)

Free editing software for art videos

Once you film your videos you want to cut out certain parts. Like the parts where you don’t do anything because you’re staring at your reference. Or when you do something off-screen.

The best free editing software for (art) videos is daVinci Resolve by Black Magic Design. This free editing software is used by industry professionals and has a great reputation.

With daVinci resolve you can:

  • Edit and cut videos
  • Add subtitles
  • Add music
  • Add a whole lot of effects
  • Export as .mp4 (recommended when you want to post to social media)
  • Do a lot more than I could ever mention here

It’s a huge program. I can’t believe it’s free, but it really is! I use it for all of my art videos. Luckily there are a ton of tutorials on Youtube to help you get started:

Low budget camera set up for overhead videos

After talking about everything you need to create art videos let’s put together the total cost. Here are the costs of a low-budget overhead camera set up to film art videos:

Camera devicePhone$0 (because you already have one)
Lighting set upWindow$0
Camera set upOverhead video phone holder$25,99
Editing softwareDa Vinci (+ OBS + Camo)$0
Total: $25,99

For only $25,99 you can create professional-looking art videos. You can always upgrade as you go.

OH! Another tip is to think of the background of your art videos. Put a plant next to one of your artwork, or some other nice items. Think of the composition of the video, just like with your artwork.

I like to experiment with ”flat lays”. These are aesthetically pleasing images. But you can apply the same concept to overhead-shot videos. Here are some examples:

How to film yourself painting

There are several ways you can film yourself painting:

  • By using a tripod
  • By letting someone else film you

I’ve learned that placing yourself in the footage makes people want to finish watching your video.

Seeing the effort a person puts into art seems to draw people in.

The following examples are pictures, but apply them to video recording instead:

Diagonally from behind:

Top view (I LOVE this):

Over the shoulder:

Some angles are harder to achieve than others. For example, the overhead footage should be done by an actual person. Unless you have a great rig that you need to share with us :’)

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to film every single stroke you make. Bits and pieces of your creative process will do better than hour-long footage of every nitty-gritty detail.

How to record yourself drawing on an iPad

If you want to record yourself drawing on your iPad or tablet you can read this article that covers how to film digital art.

Where to post art videos

The best place to post art videos are:

  • As a reel on Instagram
  • As a Youtube short
  • As a Youtube full-length video
  • As a video on Facebook

Remember that people have a short attention span. Keep your videos short, fun, and add some music. Or no music at all, and go for one of those ASMR videos.

Anyway, you can read here how to make a viral art video using reels on Instagram.

I hope you learned some tips on how to record your very own art videos. Feel free to share the links in the comments down below :)

See you next time,

♡ Laura

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