Lets start by changing the renderer to mental ray Renderer.
If you're already using mental ray Renderer, you can skip to step 2.
1. In the menu bar, press the Rendering tab and move down to Render Setup or you can press f10 on your keyboard.
2. Press the Common tab and scroll down to Assign Renderer at the bottom.
3. At Production press the box with three dots and choose mental ray Renderer.
You can now close the window.
For this tutorial I created a simple plane and a box. I then gave them the standard material and only changed the colors.
To create a box or a plane, go to the Command Panel and press Create > Geometry and choose your object type.
To bring up the Material Editor you can press the shortcut key "M" or you can go to the menu bar, press the Rendering button and go down to Material Editor. Drag out your material and drop it on a object to apply it.
In the Command Panel, press Create > Lights and press the mr Area Omni button.
Place the light like this.
If we would render this image with the standard mr Area Omni settings, we would get a image like this with very hard shadows.
Select your newly created mr Area Omni if it isn't selected already, then go to the Command Panel and press Modify.
In the General Parameters tab make sure that Light type is On and that it's Omni and that Shadows are On and that it's Ray Traced Shadows.
Move down to the Area Light Parameters tab. The On box should be checked and type should be Sphere.
I will explain more about Radius and Samples in the next step.
How soft your shadow is going to be depends on how far away your light is and how big it is. A light with a large radius close to the object will give a softer shadow while a light further away will give a harder shadow.
How the shadow is going to be varies from scene to scene, the easiest way is to render with low settings and see what the result will look like.
The quality of the shadow depends on the samples in the Area Light Parameters. Original is 5 and 5 while 15 and 15 can count as high quality. But the higher the values are, the longer your rendering time will be.
The image below shows how big I made the radius on my light. In the next step I will show you how the render looks like.
This is how my final render looks.
If you followed the previous steps yours should look the same.
Here is another render with roughly the same settings on the light as the previous render.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you found it usefull.