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Best way to record yourself drawing digitally

Journal Entry: Tue Jul 12, 2011, 10:05 PM
Update: Added section about CONVERTING video sessions below.

Quick bit of help here, because I'm not sure if everyone knows the best way to handle this if you want to record your progress while drawing in Photoshop, Manga Studio, Painter, whatever.

You may have tried some of the screen recorders out there like CamStudio, FRAPS, or some free ones out there. You may have noticed, or had become frustrated with, the fact that many of these programs cause a significantly huge hit on your system's performance. When you try drawing in Photoshop, your tablet response comes to a screeching halt. Then you find a program that records without impacting your drawing performance -- only to find that the resulting video recorded at about 1 frame every 3 seconds. Then you tried FRAPS, then found out that 4 minutes of video resulted in a 3.2GB file. All of these are less than ideal.

A while back, I searched all over the net for a program that encoded video from my screen on-the-fly without 1) impacting performance, 2) creating massive file sizes, and while 3) doing it a frame rate between 15 to 30 per second. It took a while, and so many programs were nothing but disappointing, but I managed to find ONE.

And it's the ONLY one I've ever found to meet those requirements: and it's Camtasia Studio by TechSmith.

It's not a free program, (and not cheap either,) but it's worth it if you intend to do this kind of stuff. I'd suggest messing around with the trial. (Hey, freddiew got through all of college by just using Adobe products on a trial basis. Works, right?) It records the whole screen with great quality, high frame rate, next to no impact on performance, and encodes on-the-fly so your file sizes are reasonable. The interface for it is top-notch as well, allowing you to quickly choose sections of the screen to record, or entire separate monitors if you need, and you can pause easily if you're taking a break. (You can set global macros that will start camtasia recorder automatically and start recording. It's great to set Pause to one of your tablet buttons, if you have one free.) What's nice as well is that Camtasia comes with it's own pretty good video editing platform for the footage you end up with. It's nothing like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, (closer to iMovie actually,) but it'll do the trick to get your stuff up on Youtube -- especially since it supports clip speed up by as much as 800%.

Camtasia was used in the recording of this video I did:… -- although the jaggedness of the video is actually caused from a badly encoded output file from Premiere. The originally looks just as good as the real thing. Oops.)

nervene also writes about his experience using LiveStream's software as an additional method. It's not as full-featured as Camtasia, but hey it'll do the job nicely since it's mostly free.
"Livestream has an option to save a local MP4 video of whatever you are streaming, and a recent update enabled it to continue storing this local file even if your connection to their servers drops; they also made the audio frame-synchronized so the files can be dropped in a video editor without audio synchronization problems (if you so wanted to).

The streaming resolution is limited to 640x480, I'm unsure if the local video file may be able to pass this; but I think this would be fine for the majority of people when taking into account that you can focus on a smaller region of your screen (cutting out borders/menus/ other things that take up real estate), and that it is entirely free. Ctrl+Q toggles showing the green border on your desktop (it could get distracting while painting).

I don't notice any performance impacts for desktop apps, some games may get a bit of a drop in FPS during intensive moments, but some games also seem particularly friendly and don't seem to suffer at all. I recorded Just Cause 2 with no perceivable performance impact for 3.5 hours @ 320x180 20FPS, 363kbps (64kbps stereo audio) and the file turned out to be 564MB. That's a relatively big file and a small resolution, but it's 3.5 hours - I was expecting at least a gigabyte based on my previous screen recording experiences. Other programs might be even better, but I was more than happy with that. I think by playing around with the FPS, resolution, and quality settings, a good balance could be found between visuals and file size.

You won't get as high a resolution as you might be able to with other programs, but what it does it does well. Some conveniences like auto-focusing on the mouse, setting at a very low FPS to do time-lapse, and undoubtedly a lot of features for more detailed control aren't there. In the end the reduction of resolution shouldn't make much of an impact if you're demonstrating a painting method, you can still see every stroke but the very smallest of pixel brushes (depending on your desktop resolution and how much screen area you are recording). At 2x scale the blur from filtering is easily tolerable unless you're trying to display small text (in which case you'd want to zoom in during menu navigation if you're doing tutorials). And of course, at least when you start recording you'll need an Internet connection to initially log in. You can set it so that it won't actually go live on the Internet if you want, I believe that it will still log the local file."

Then don't worry, you're all set! You guys got this easy. While TechSmith does make Camtasia Studio for Mac OS X, it's not at all as necessary provided that you have Mac OS 10.6 or higher. If you DO NOT have Mac OS X 10.6 or higher, I suggest using Camtasia Studio just the same as Windows. Although, since Camtasia costs $300, I'd say just upgrade yourself to 10.6 if your computer meets the specs so you can follow this method instead:

Quicktime X. Go to your applications folder and open up "QuickTime Player." (Or Quicktime X if it's called that on your system.) Go to File and select "Start new Screen Recording" (or something like that, I don't have my mac with me at the moment to check.) Hit the record button and bam, you're all good to go.

The QuickTime Player recorder captures the entire screen while encoding on-the-fly H.264 from the leftover frame buffer of the system. This means that you will see absolutely NO impacted system performance, and the file size will be very small. iMovie can be used to easily edit your captured video to be ready to send to youtube. (or wherever else.) That's it!

You might find out that the resulting recordings from these softwares could potentially be incompatible with SOME video editing software such as Adobe Premiere. If you need these files to become compatible, you can use a video converter to change it over to a compatible format. One of the best conversion programs out there, compatible with both Mac OS and Windows, is an open-sourced community project called Handbrake.

Handbrake can convert most types of video into a number of choice formats and industry-leading codecs. This is a great way to turn those proprietorially encoded files, say from Camtasia within an AVI container, into an H.264 encoded video in an MP4 format. Handbrake is a remarkably light weight program packed full of features to make minor adjustments to the video file in terms of crop, frame rate, aspect ratio, and audio/subtitle inclusions. Based on the speed of your system, Handbrake can take advantage of beastly processors to encode video files sometimes 3 to 4x faster than normal playback. (An hour video could only take about 20 minutes or less to re-encode. It depends on the frame size.) Using handbrake, I can take a one hour recorded session from Camtasia and re-encode it with no visual quality loss to H.264. Better yet, the file size of the re-encoded video shrinks to only about 50MB from its original 524! (When they say H.264 is a remarkably efficient codec, they are NOT kidding.)

From there, you can then take your videos and import them into a wider variety of video editing suites.

Even if you don't end up uploading the drawing session you recorded by the end of the day, or by the end of the image, it still has a profound effect on your working efficiency. When the recorder is running, it has a tendency to make it feel like an audience is watching you, so you focus more on doing the work directly in front of you to "please" the outcome of the recorder, instead of drawing for a bit and then succumbing to mindless distractions.

I'd suggest testing it out, see what it can do for you and your workflow. Plus, it's a really fun thing to show people. Just don't get overloaded with recorded files. If you end up never uploading them, it's probably safe to delete them, or save them for a "Sketch Dump" sorta all-inclusive video you might piece together at some point later to consolidate those unwanted videos.

Add a Comment:
Nerdux Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Someone knows how to hide the cursor on the video?
Aerite Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the journal! :D
EvilMarryPopins Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
This is incredibly helpful THANK YOU!!! 
cgDIRUS Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I use a live gamer portable for recording... it´s awesome and only 1 click, you kinda forget you are recording yourself.
Fyrrea Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this journal, it's really helpful!
l-Ataraxia-l Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2015  Professional
I will have to give the livestream thing a try.
SoulXFairy Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Is there a program that will let me record on Clip Studio Paint (on MAC)? Whenever I try to use Quicktime it stops recording and crashes. 
Endangered-CDs Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMG I HAVE THIS SAME PROBLEM. This has been bothering me FOR DAYS.
SoulXFairy Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I KNOW RIGHT so I'm trying to find another recorder.
Endangered-CDs Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Let me know which one works!
SoulXFairy Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
HubblezXXI Featured By Owner Edited May 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
dude ._. k. like. every time i open clip studio paint while recording with quicktime it will stop recording the instant i open the application, anybody got any advice?? ive even tried other screen recorders and they all do the same thing??
SoulXFairy Featured By Owner May 8, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ALL OF THEM?! I haven't had time to look for others (packed with school) how many have you tried?
HubblezXXI Featured By Owner May 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah man like I tried maybe 6 or 7 and every time i tried stopping the recorder it would freeze and i would have to force quit app and then open it again and sometimes lost footage etc. /).(\ buuuttt !!! I decided to download clip studio paint onto my windows laptop and it took hrs and hrs but i finally found a screen recorder decent enough and its call icecream screen recorder :3 and it doesnt take up tons of space either, i just transfer the videos onto my mac desktop and convert them to mp4 and it works good :3
(1 Reply)
cosmicspark Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You never have issues with crashing?  It seems to me like the program crashes so frequently Its hard to imagine paying money for it.
DeusExPython Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2014
Cheaper alternative: I used Hypercam 2 and recorded myself drawing at 2fps and sped up the video in Sony Vegas to about 16x and so far it's looking good. 

Anyone know how to get a fixed view when recording? I'm having to zoom in a lot while I'm painting in Photoshop. 
Zaellrin Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you so kindly for the tips! I've been researching the best way to go with this. :heart:
debellischew Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014

Thanks for your cool review.As a professional art designer, I used a wonderful Mac and iPad drawing app named MyBrushes. The whole drawing process could be saved as drawing video and playback anytime.   It is very easy to share my creative work to others.…

FaintPrince Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you for posting this it was very helpful!!
JutaWi Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Bless you for this post :heart:
ZombieOwl Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I was just trying to edit the video in iMovie, but for some reason the recording is all red when it's imported D:
I was wondering if you have any ideas?
PlanetKhaos Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Quicktime on MAC works but has a ton of lag when I record Manga studio. I only have 4 gigs of RAM on my MacBook Pro, so I assume thats my problem. How much RAM is the minimum requirement to record your monitor?
MatijaDesign Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
someone tryied ezvid?
raymitorochi Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Is there a free one to use that's almost good as camtasia?
Hyroar Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Hobbyist
Same question here. :/
speedy-painter Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2013
a possible alternative is to use SpeedyPainter, it records the drawing process and allows you to export it on a video file.
fox-orian Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Is it the style of recording that programs like OpenCanvas or "Colors!" for the DS uses? That kind of "each stroke = 1 frame" type of thing? (If so, I never liked those as much as it never recorded pauses between strokes or pausing by the artist to think etc.)
speedy-painter Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013
Yes, it is the same style. I am interested in better understanding your point of view, why do you need pauses?
fox-orian Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I prefer recordings of people drawing digitally when you can see the system UI, the cursor moving around, the actual speed at which the artist produces strokes -- quickness vs careful advancement, etc. In the opencanvas style, yeah you can see the process in which the image was built up, but I enjoy seeing the TOTAL process. I'd even prefer to see the artist's hand if I could -- but most people don't have camera setups over their shoulder, hahah. It is more of a preferential thing, not really that it's outright better. I just think it's more informative.
speedy-painter Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013
thank you for sharing your point of view, I am very interested in other artists' opinions, since I think I should take different user preferences into account when I plan in adding more features to my application :), thank you :thanks:
DrillBreaker08 Featured By Owner May 18, 2012
when i record myself in photoshop it goes dark any thoughts?
cyanide-sunflowers Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, this journal has been a lifesaver! I've been looking for ages for a decent screen recorder for Mac OS and I never knew about that option in Quicktime. 0_o I've tried three or four different programs, none of which have worked well, and so I had given up on recording myself....So yes, in short, thank you so much for this! So much of what you put on dA is incredibly helpful and informative! <3
9mmEd Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2011  Professional General Artist
Another possibility for Macs is CamTwist. This free software offers lots of other options for webcam fun and video streaming. I don't know how it treats video compression, though. Sorry!

Thanks for this great journal!
Danifox Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2011
Very helpful info, thanx
Goatie-dk Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011
A great and free alternative to Camtasia Studio is BB FlashBack Express from Blueberry Software based in the UK. The Express version has a few limitations compared to the Standard and Professional editions. You can see a comparison chart over the three different editions right here.
I use Express to record different things on my screen and audio to make small video tutorials for people and show off how bad I am at different games. I don't use the simple editor that follows with the program, I simply export the file as .avi and edit it in Sony Vegas. But if you chose to use the editing program Express has then just do that.. it's good enough for simple editing and exporting.

Hope this helps a few Windows users out there =)
LibertineM Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011   Digital Artist
Thank you SO much for this helpful journal. I'm going to try this out as soon as I get home!
NickJake Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
i have a mac and i use a program called Gawker, i find it very useful for drawing. its a free time-lapse recording software. you can record though your webcam or, what i find useful, your desktop. you can set it to record at a certain frames per second so weh i sit down for a 3 hr long session i ahve it record ever 3 second. in the end i have a fast video if me drawing. further more, inlike camtasia and quicktime, where fil size can be MASSIVE, gawkers files are about 30 megs for a long video. the one downside is you can record in high def. other than that i recommend it!
dierat Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the tip! I tried out Camtasia yesterday, and it was a very insightful experience. It's funny that you don't always notice what you're doing on-screen while you're in the drawing. I'm hoping I can try to make my drawing process more efficient from studying my process in this fashion. And Camtasia was great; easy to install and easy to get into.
saramations Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I'm afraid to record myself because of what I'll see when I play it back. But I'm also really really curious. :O

This is pretty good stuff to know-- thanks brooo!
Nikki0417 Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Student General Artist
If there was ever a time to fav a journal like DA has set up for beta testers, this is it. I've always been curious about recording my drawing process, but never had a computer that could handle it. I've already tried out livestream, but didn't like the video quality, much. Also, trying to speed up the videos in Windows Movie Maker was making them incredibly choppy (you can tell I've never done this before). Now I'm gonna try out Camtasia and see for myself.
EnzuDes1gn Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
Camtasia is the best bar none, uses fuck all resources to run, looks great, easy to use, has a massive range of features the list goes on ... been using it for over 3 years now, tried others, but nothing even comes close, yea it's not free, but then for such quality, i would not expect it to be free ;)
PENICKart Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011  Professional General Artist
I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but Snapz Pro X is another great program for the Mac. I've been using it for years. It's extraordinarily easy to use and it gives you lots of compression options once you're done recording. It's like $70 - give or take $10 - which is no more expensive than upgrading your OS. Just do a search for it - you'll find it easily enough. It's made by Ambrosia.
Nokadota Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thank you for this post, I have been wondering what the best recording program for Windows was. I'll certainly be referring to this journal again, in the future.
AngelJasiel Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
my first favorite journal..
Legardrua Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011
Thank you.
jpbbantigue Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
Is there a way to like a journal entry? :D
Nikki0417 Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Student General Artist
There is if you're a beta-tester, haha!
Crista-Galli Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011
I've been wanting to do screen capture for the longest time, and up until now, every program I've tried was sub par, so thank you so much for this pro tip!
psdguy Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
thanks for the quicktime tip! I had no idea that option was even there.
Kenyu05KR Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Awesome, very informative journal, thank you! I've never recorded myself drawing, and I will be getting a new mac pro this month so Hopefully will give it a shot :D
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July 12, 2011


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