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Radiation scattered from diffraction gratings on the surface of waveguides is analyzed using the volume current method. This technique allows the interpretation of the grating elements as scattering centers of the underlying waveguide mode, and radiating sources for the diffracted fields. The framework allows separation of the effects of the grating array global periodicity and the effects of the specific shape of the individual grating elements. A straightforward analogy between the effects of the grating element shape and the behavior of phased-antenna array systems allows a clear and intuitive understanding of the effects of blazed gratings on the directionality of grating-coupled radiation. The analysis is applied to some specific geometries.