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Flash (also known as Shockwave Flash) is a file format for animated (and optionally, interactive) vector graphics. Flash animations are commonly found on World Wide Web pages for special effects, advertisement, navigation bars, games, and entertainment. A Web browser needs a Flash player plugin to play Flash files. Today, many browsers have such a plugin by default; on other browsers, the user may need to download and install it himself.

Flash files have the ending .SWF.

Flash graphics do not look like videos because the graphics are based on lines, curves and areas. Flash is mostly used for cartoon-style animation. One typical property of Flash graphics is that it is zoomable, and zooming results in no quality loss (unlike bitmap-based graphics) because it is a vector graphics format.

If the computer playing the Flash animation is not fast enough, the animation can be slowed down and/or jerky. As a makeshift in such situations, the user can manually select a lower rendering quality (right mouse button, context menu "Quality").

Flash and spanking art

Many artists who work or experiment with spanking animation select Flash as their format of choice because it can be conveniently embedded in a Web page and people can play it in their browsers without any additional software. It also has a small footprint compared to bitmap-graphics-based video files such as AVI or MPEG, despite the fact that these are compressed.

Flash also allows user interaction: The user can interact by clicking on a button in the animation, for example, and thus influence what is played. This feature has been used by spanking artists such as Comixpank or Spanm.

A third feature of flash is sound. There can be background music and/or accompanying noises added to the animation. For example, in a spanking animation, the artist who creates the animation can add a slapping sound whenever a spank is given.