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A comparative theoretical study of the transient grating coherent effects in resonant picosecond excitation-probe experiments is presented. Signals in both the probe and conjugate directions are discussed. The effects of recombination, nonradiative scattering, and spatial and orientational diffusion are included. The analysis is applied to both a molecular and a semiconductor model. Signal contributions from concentration and orientational gratings are distinguished and their temporal natures discussed. From the solid-state point of view, we show that state-filling, and in particular, anisotropic state-filling, can be identified from the configurational and time dependence of the detected signal, and thereby establish a theoretical explanation for our recent observations in germanium.