How to record art videos with your phone

This article is for those who want to make art videos with your phone. By art videos, I mean recording yourself drawing, making an art tutorial, demonstration or recording any kind of crafting process.

These are the essential equipment you need.

1. Tripod
A good tripod is one that's stable. Don't get those clamps that clamp to the side of the table because they will wobble easily when the table moves. Shaky video is bad.

2. Phone holder/clamp
The phone holder is to help attach your phone to the tripod so that you can point your phone at your art.

3. Phone
Any phone with a camera will do.

4. Lavalier microphone
This allows you to record you talking while you draw. It would be good if you can get a lavalier microphone that can connect to your phone as well as your computer (via an adapter).

If your lavalier microphone can connect to the computer, you can do narration or voiceover.


Tabletop tripods are cute but you can only use them on a table.

Get a tall tripod that's at least 1.5m height. You'll need to point down towards your drawing so you need the tripod to be tall.

Tripods have extendable legs which may be locked in position with clamps. My Velbon tripod uses twisting mechanism to lock the legs which are more convenient than using clamps.

Tripods may or may not come with the tripod head. Two common types of tripod head are the ball-head and the pan-head with handle (made for video recording).

Ball-head is easier to use. The handle can get in the way sometimes.

The tripod head will come with a plate (to be fixed to the phone or camera). If you plan on using multiple devices with the tripod, find a tripod head where you can buy replacement tripod plates. I have two cameras and a phone, and I have one tripod plate for each device so that I don't have to unscrew from one to fix onto the other.

Phone holder/clamp

The phone holder or clamp must be able to hold your phone securely without wobble.

Make sure you get one big enough to clamp the width of your phone with phone case.

Get a phone holder that allows for tripod mounting.

The one that I'm using is the Manfrotto Twistgrip. It's pricey but it's solid, well built, and can last forever, and it has tripod mount on the bottom, and a hotshoe mount at the top in case you want to attach extra lights.

You can also twist it to keep it flat, making it easy to bring around. It big enough to hold an iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5 inch phone) with case.

When attaching the tripod plate to the phone clamp, make sure it's tight. Actually, when securing anything, make sure everything is tight because you don't want the anything to fall over and damage your phone.

When setting up your phone and tripod, make sure the camera is close to your art. You may have to flip your phone 180 degrees.

If your camera is far away, the video look as if it's filmed from an tilted angle.

It's nice to use a tripod with horizontal tripod arm but that arm is actually quite expensive. And it's a hassle to setup and keep the horizontal tripod arm. You want to keep your setup simple.

When recording, always place the camera away from your drawing hand. If you're right handed, place the camera on the left so that your hand will not block the camera from your art.

Best video quality is achieved with best light. If there's low light, bad light, or dark, even an expensive camera can't save your recording.

The best light to use is natural light, sunlight, but not under direct sunlight. It's best to work near a window and the sunlight will fill the room as fill and reflected light. Cloudy days may work as long as the day is still bright. Rainy weather or dark clouds are bad conditions for recording videos.

Usually I'm seated behind the tripod. I try not to hit the tripod because it will create shaky video. If your phone has a zoom/telephone lens, you can extend the tripod higher so that your head will not accidentally hit the phone.

If you want to record videos regardless of external lighting conditions, you will have to spend money to get lighting equipment. I have a few of those bright portable LED lights (with rechargeable battery) because one does not offer enough coverage. And even with multiple artificial lights, sometimes they may cast unwanted shadows onto the paper. That's why fill light from the sun is the best. Oh, and you need space and extra tripods to set up those artificial lights. More equipment means spending more money.

Lavalier microphone

You can actually use those headsets that come with phones to record audio. The headsets have earphones and a microphone but the recording quality is usually not that good because the headset is cheap.

It's best to get a dedicated lavalier microphone that you can clip to your shirt.

A brand you can consider is PowerDeWise which has lots of good reviews on Amazon. PowerDeWise has lavaliers made for iPhones and Android phones.

It's good to choose a lavalier microphone that can be used with both iPhones and Android phones, and hence should have the lightning port adapter or USB-C adapter.

There are wireless microphones available for phones. The one that I use is the Saramonic Blink 500 which has adapters for iPhones (lightning), Android (USB-C), DSLR and mirrorless cameras (3.5mm audio jack).

Wireless is convenient since there are no cables to deal with. Downside is you have to make sure the battery is always fully charged before you record. You don't want the battery to run out halfway while recording only to find out when you're editing the video. The battery is rechargeable but not removable so the unit will die eventually. That's one thing I hate about built-in batteries.

If you use cabled microphones, make sure the cable doesn't show while recording. At home, I use cabled microphones because I don't want to worry about battery life.

When recording, it's best if there are no loud ambient noise, e.g. roadworks, traffic, planes flying, fire alarm, grass cutters, ambulance, police, you know.

Apps for recording video

I use an iPhone currently and my favourite video recording app is Moment. Another popular app is Filmic Pro. I prefer Moment because it has good manual settings and there's also a timelapse recording functionality.

You can use any video recording app you like as long as it allows you access to manual controls, more specifically the auto/manual focus and frame rate (FPS).

If you know of good third party video recording apps for Android, share with me and others in the comments section.

5 things you need to check before recording

1. Resolution
1080P is sufficient resolution. People who watch videos online don't really care about 4K or 1080P.

4K files will be huge, and take longer to edit and export. You'll also need a more powerful computer to edit the videos.

Apps for editing video

For MacOS, iMovie and Final Cut Pro are popular for editing videos.

I don't use Windows to edit videos. If you know of any good video editing apps on Windows, share with me and others in the comments section.

There's one good one called Da Vinci Resolve which is free (one version older than current) and should do the job for basic video editing.

2. Set to manual focus
When recording, switch to manual focus if you can. Not all phones or apps provide manual control. You don't want auto-focus because you don't want the focus to jump from your hand to the paper and back continuously. The subject coming in and out of focus is extremely distracting. People don't want to watch that.

3. Set to the appropriate frame rate
Frame rate is important depend on what you're recording, and the conditions under which you are recording. If you recording yourself drawing on paper, the frame rate or FPS is not important and you can choose any FPS (usually 24, 25 or 30FPS).

Displays on tablets, phones, lights that run on electricity all run on a certain frequency.

If you're recording yourself drawing on a tablet, or recording indoors with ceiling lights, you'll need to choose a frame rate that matches the frequency of the tablet or ceiling lights. Otherwise you will record the pulsating or flicking effect which will make the video unwatchable.

The photo above was shot at very high frame rate which is not in sync with the phone's display, and that's why you see those unwanted light strobe effects.

4. Turn on airplane mode and silent mode
You don't want your phone to vibrant while recording, or your phone to ring while you're taking.

5. Make sure your microphone is connected properly
Plug in the microphone all the way.

It's always good to record a few seconds of footage to check if there are any audio issues or visual issues caused by FPS (for drawing on tablets or with indoor lights).

When recording

Just frame your scene properly to show off your art or process. Frame is so that people can see the details.

Mix close up shots with wide shots.

Other things to note

You don't really need music if it's an instructional video. Don't create a video with only music as background. Timelapse is only good if there's instruction.

But if you need music, you can get free copyright-free music from Youtube Audio Library which is located within Youtube Studio. Obviously you'll need a Youtube account to download the music.


Having the best lighting is more important than having the best phone.

Having good audio quality is a must.

If you only have a phone, then you'll have to spend money to get a tripod, phone clamp and lavalier microphone. That should set you back US $150. It's a lot of money but buy good ones (the ones I use) and they will last for a long time.

If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments section below.


Thanks very much for this.

Thanks very much for this. It's about a month too late.... I had to record a sketching session for a Museum presentation in September! Fortunately, I figured out some of this on my own. I do own an expensive Manfrotto tripod that was able to bend at a 90 degree angle.

I'm going to remember this tutorial in case I need to do this again!

Windows free and open source video editing software can be had from Kdenlive.

Hi Theo, thank you so much

Hi Theo, thank you so much for the info. I was just wandering should I get an old, cheap but good GoPro or should I use my phone. I think the advantage would be that my GoPro can always stay connected and ready to shoot, while I use my phone daily so I have to connect it and disconnect it every time I want to record.
Software I use for video editing is called CapCut, works great for my needs, I wanted just soma basic cut/copy editing and possibility to speed up part of my video when needed (CapCut gives you option to curve the speed of your video if needed).

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