I'm having trouble creating realistic punching sounds. Everything I try to create sounds really fake or nothing like a punch. Are there any suggestions as to how I can resolve my issue?

9 Answers 9


"creating realistic punching sounds"

Your question is too vague to answer, punching what exactly? A punch to the chest will sound different to a punch to the arm, which will sound different to a punch to the head. And a punch to the head will sound different depending where on the head it lands eg a cheek hit will sound different again if that punch also connects through to cartiledge in the nose, or to the jaw, and whether teeth are broken etc. You need to analyse exactly what is happening, and then work on the layers with microscopic attention to sync & timing of different elements...

If you want it to be truly realistic, go to a karate club and ask someone to perform punches on various body parts and listen. You'll possibly be surprised how it sounds 'realistically'


Are you using library sounds or recording them yourself? What do you mean by 'realistic' anyway? In real life a punch doesn't really sound like it does in the movies generally. If you're going for that hyper-real effect then you might want to try layering several sounds together. If you're recording them yourself try imagining the sound you're trying to get before you start. Perhaps recording slaps/punches on a leather coat, hitting some mattresses hard with a baseball bat then layering some whip sounds and some impacts with bones/nuts/veg abuse etc. Some eq and compression will help bring out the forcefulness of it. That's if you're going for that kind of sound to begin with lol

For a more 'realistic' sound just try recording yourself punching your palm or thighs! Again layer to taste. Mic choice/placement will be important too, as well as the room you record in!

Hope that helps!

  • 1
    Layering is indeed the key. If you're looking for a single sound you just won't find it. Yewdall has a great quote in his book "I can play you a recording of a rifle impacting a man chin and it will sound flat and lifeless, but I can play you a carefully constructed cue of three sounds and I guarantee you will double over in empathetic pain". For example one sound will have the "thump" you need while another will have the "crunch". Don't forget about cloth too... very important for "realism". And Vocal reactions as well. Most folks aren't silent when getting hit!
    – Sonsey
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 13:40
  • Applies equally to library and recordings...
    – Sonsey
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 13:41

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98MzNFKW_wk&feature=related from 1.30 on They go a little bit about how they made the punching sounds for fight club, i heard somewhere

and: http://filmsound.org/studiosound/pp_fightclub.html


I agree with Tim. I would go to a martial arts studio and get body impact sounds. Nothing beats the sounds of hits to a real body. That being said, I would probably still enhance those sounds with some of the following.

I have faked it with a mixture melon hits for head impacts (a soft overripe honeydew) and chest hits(large watermelon), low LFE bursts, clothing rustle and body movement recordings, and some grunts and forceful exhales from my co-workers. Hitting a thick steak or leg of lamb can do the trick too. (If you use rubber gloves, you can have a celebratory BBQ later. Woo hoo!)

Have fun. The trick is timing and layering. Now back to today's knife slash sounds....


Sometimes I layer in a snare drum, punching a garbage bag full of leaves, or slam a book onto the ground for some nice low end.


People might have noticed I keep linking SoundWorks videos, I'm sorry but this is pretty interesting I'm still a newbie myself so I can't really help out much but I hope it helps:



I think there's no advice but some great examples of exaggerated, modern punching sfx

At about 3:30 min

"Watchmen" Sound Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


I think maybe there are several possibilities.
1)Foley plus lots of processing 2)Realistic sounds from a martial arts studio 3)Solid foley 4)Contact the picture editor and ask him to put batman style POW'S and CRACKS IN.
5)Orchestral stingers


Easy! I have an episode of punching sound effects being released this saturday, I did tons of research and lots of (sometimes expensive) experimentation and even though the last answer was in june 2011 who knows, someone else may stumble across this post and need what I have to tell them!

chest/back/clothing punches. These are heavy hitting heavy resistance punches, we used a phone book, punched it several times and several different ways to get exactly the sound we were looking for. Word to the wise: punch it lightly, to strong a punch and you get plastic sounds from the cover and rustling pages (depending on how you hold it). It usually sounded better up in the air than against the ground but try it both ways and see what fits.

gut punches A softer, longer lasting punch (generally visualized as through cloth) I made by hitting a broom or mop against a couch cushion. This one worked especially well when we added some recorded open-mouth chewing on carrots to the mix. Wile you can get away with just the broom/couch sound if you're looking to churn someone's guts or break a bone bite or chew on a carrot or celery for added emphasis.

bare skin, slaps, head punches Go out and buy some cheap steak, put it against a solid surface that will absorb any reverberating sound and beat the heck out of it! We found you can also get a similar effect by slapping the steak against more steak.

Classic technique The tried and true method used since the days of yore is slapping your hand against your thigh really hard and recording that (make sure it's recording!). You won't want to do this very many times.

But yes it is better if I know what sort of punch you want, there are more punching sound fx but those are the big ones! Remember to record it in a similar room/environment as the scene takes place in to get the right echo and vibrations.


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