Golden Software Surfer is a commercial software to create contour map, 3d [like] surface map, calculate length, area and volume of your spatial-aware data. Surfer is good and fast enough to calculate grid from your spatial data. If you have surveyed some dip and tip of particular area and then you want to know predicted contour-map area around those surveyed-points, kriging with Surfer is your answer. You can achieve same result with SAGA raster creation tool, but this open-source software is somehow hard to learn. If you want to know more about Surfer, please have a visit on their website.
Sometime, you may had been assigned to create a blanked grid, a grid which area outside specified SHP area is “blank”-ed, removed from the map. See the following illustration.
I’ve made a tutorial in Ms PowerPoint and put it on SlideShare