Maya 2012 Tutorial
How to Add a Maya Area Light
Area lights can simulate large light sources such as windows or overhead light sources. They can also create stunning shadows.
Open a scene with multiple objects.
Add an Area Light to the scene (Create > Lights > Area Light).
Using the Move Tool, re-position the light above the scene and to the side. Press the t key to access the light's Manipulator. Move the Manipulator to the middle of the objects.
With the light selected, open the Attribute Editor and select the Shadows tab. Scroll down and check the Use Raytrace Shadows box. Increase the Shadow Rays to 10.
Open the Render Settings window and click Maya Software from the Render Using menu. Click the Maya Software tab and set the Quality to Production Quality.
Scroll down the Maya Software tab and open the Ray Tracing Quality section. Check the Ray Tracing box. Increase the Shadow Rays to 10.
Render your scene. Adjust the light intensity in the light's Attribute Editor if necessary.