How to record your screen with Screenflow

Artists: How to Record Yourself Drawing Digitally [Mac]

Why You Should Record Yourself Drawing

Comic book readers love to see how their favorite creators make comics.

Fellow professionals are always looking for new tips or tricks.

Social networks love a good video.

If you’re still drawing/inking on pen and paper, then you need a different set-up. You’ll need some kind of contraption above your drawing board or over your shoulder to clamp your camera or phone to and record the video.

If you’re using Clip Studio Paint or Photoshop with a Cintiq or some other kind of digital drawing device, things are a lot easier.

I’m going to show you how.

This tutorial will only cover recording what’s on your screen.  This will not be the over-the-shoulder kind of video where you can see the artist’s hand in the video.


Step One: Buy Screenflow [Mac]

ScreenFlow for recording your screen and editing videos

There are lots of applications that will record your screen.  Plenty of them.

I’m telling you right now, go with Screenflow.  It makes recording your screen easy, and offers as full an editing suite as you’ll need afterwards to finish your video off.

This won’t be a full tutorial on how to use it, but I’ll walk you through the basics to get the job done.

Also, there’s plenty of people using it. This is a well established piece of software with a large user base.  Googling for an answer will usually solve your problems.  Check YouTube for a million videos on how to make videos with Screenflow.

It’s $99, but you’re a professional.  Save your receipt and write it off on your taxes.  Also, keep your eyes open and you’ll occasionally see it in a bundle deal.  That’s how I got the version I have for less than half the price.

The latest version now will create animated gifs from your video, which is pretty cool.

The PC equivalent is called Camtasia.  It’s $199.

This tutorial will be using ScreenFlow v5.  A new sixth edition has since come out.  There might be some differences in the menus, but the gist of it all is the same, I’m sure.


What You Need

  • An Apple Mac of some sort.  Yes, you can do some variation of this process with Windows and even Linux, but that’s not what this article is going to show you.
  • Free space on your hard drive.  Video chews up disk space.  Your screen is immense, by pixel count, with a lot of colors on display.  And the last thing you want to happen is for your computer to run out of hard drive space while you’re in the middle of getting work done.

 Before Recording

  • Turn off alerts. You don’t want to have to edit around text messages popping up in the corner of the screen.
  • Clean up your desktop.  Your viewers don’t want to see — even for a moment — dozens of cluttering icons in the background behind what you’re drawing in that one instant when you’re switching between windows or closing one down to open another up.  Good news!  Screen flow can do this for you.  Click on the Screenflow icon on your menu bar and select “Hide Desktop Icons” and watch them fade away.  You can repeat this process to bring them back, don’t worry.  They haven’t gone anywhere.
  • Hide anything in your menu bar you may want to hide.  If they’re going to pop up with alerts while you’re recording, then this goes doubly so.  If you just don’t want the world to know you do your best work at 3:00 a.m. or your boss to know you’re drawing on the job during your “work from home” day, you might want to turn off the Time/Date on the menu bar, too.

Also, if you’re going to be working on something you already started, load it up in your art program of choice first.  Don’t load it up while you’re recording.  People are nosy creatures and will pause your video to see what other files are in your directories.  This might cause embarrassment or professional harm if you have a folder named after an upcoming project that hasn’t been announced.

Likewise, if you’re starting with a blank slate, start the new project and save it before you start recording, so you’ve already picked the file name and directory.

Yes, you can edit this all out after the fact, but it’s better to be lazy in post-production.  You might forget.

How to Record Your Screen

Start up Screenflow. You’ll see this screen:

Screen flow Startup Screen

On the first checkbox, use the dropdown to pick which screen you need to record, if you have multiple screens.  For example, I pick the second option for me, “MVP20U+RH”, because that’s my Yiynova digital pen display.  This is where your Cintiq will show up.  If you’re drawing using a Wacom tablet on your main computer screen, then choose that screen.  (In my case, that would be the “iMac” option.)

Skip the second “Record Screen” option. That’s where you can plug in your iPad or iPhone and record its screen.

“Record Video From” will not only record the screen, but also any incoming video, such as the camera in your computer, or a separate webcam you may have attached.  Some people like to have a little secondary video playing in the corner of the screen as they show off what they’re doing.  It’s useful for that.  Since my Yiynova doesn’t have a camera in it, I don’t use this option.  A video of the side of my head as I’m drawing off-screen to the right would just be annoying.

“Record Audio” is a good option.  By default, Screenflow won’t be recording the audio.  If you have a mic plugged in, it will appear on this list. (In my case, it lists “iMac USB audio system.”)

You can use the built-in microphone if you have to, but that’s never the best option.  Any port in a storm, but this should not be your default option.  Yes, you can split the audio off from the video later on. You can record your audio separately and import it later, too, if you want.

I tend to have GarageBand open on the other screen and record my audio there at the same time I record the video.  GarageBand has more options for tweaking the audio so it sounds the best.  Then, I import it and line it up with the video.

“Record Computer Audio” will record all the beeps and alarms and dings that your computer makes while you’re recording it.  Unless that’s part of the tutorial you’re recording your screen for, skip it.

That empty button next to the blue button at the bottom takes you to a second screen of options that look like this:

Screen flow Startup Screen, Page 2

I don’t use these options, to be honest, but they seem self-explanatory enough. Automatic desktop framerate has never steered me wrong and I always stop my recordings when I’m done, not at as pre-determined time.  Your use case might vary, of course, so I show this to you now, just in case it might be handy someday.


Start Your Recording

Hit that red circle on the window we were just talking about.  That’ll start a five second countdown and away you go.

This is what the countdown looks like.  The screen behind it is grayed out until the recording begins.

Screenflow Countdown


End Your Recording

Assuming you didn’t use the timer to pre-set how long the video should run, you’ll need to stop the recording manually.

There are two ways to do this.  (Well, there’s three if you want to count “Run out of disk space,” but I don’t want to encourage that option…)

First, there’s a keyboard shortcut.  You can see it right there on the countdown screen above.  It feels clumsy the first time you do it, but at least you’re unlikely to hit it by accident.

Second, there’s a Screenflow icon in the Menu bar.  Click on it and choose “Stop Record” in the dropdown.  That looks like this on my screen:


How to stop Screenflow recording from the menu bar


Remind Yourself for Later

You may also see the “Add Marker” option in that dropdown.  If you want to remind yourself to make an edit or to take note of something right after it happened, go there and Add Marker.  When you get to the editing screen later, you’ll see a small purple/pink marker in the video track where you dropped that marker.

Screen flow Drop a Marker

It could come in handy for you, especially with longer videos.  It’s a good way to remind yourself of a place you might want to edit out, or maybe that you have to bleep out a curse word or something.


Editing process

I wouldn’t even know where to begin on explaining this part of the process.  It’s fairly simple, but I don’t think writing it up as a blog post is the right way to go.  This really needs to be its own video lesson.  If you’re interested in that, let me know and maybe I’ll give it a shot.

YouTube offers lots of options, though.  If you have a favorite tutorial on this let me know. Most of the ones I’m finding are cringeworthy.  (Just because you can record your webcam at the same time as your screen, that doesn’t mean we want to look at you while you’re making your tutorial!)


Exporting Your Video

Save your final file at 1080 pixels wide.  (File –> Export –> Dimensions set to 100%)

Depending on the size of your screen, this will likely shrink it down a bit, but that’s OK.  The resolution of your screen is also likely not 16:9, so you may get a little bit of a black bar at the top and bottom of the screen in your final image.  That’s OK.

Don’t get cheap here and shrink the video down to save space.  Let YouTube do that for you later.

Don’t use Motion Blur.

And then, yes, upload your exported .MP4 video to YouTube or Facebook or Twitter or wherever you want to put it.

Then let the world know.



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1 Comment

  • Daz June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    THANK YOU Augie!


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