Lighting is horrible for that, i dont even know how to use FG and GI properly and ive been doing maya for 6 -7 years. When i light i try and match the imagery, drawn or photographic which is suitable for my work.
What do i want to stand out, how far away is it from camera, where will the most appealing 1,2,3 shadows go.
I find Gi confuses the essence of the asthetic goal, and leaves the things that should be decided down to automation.
Oh lets rant!!!!
Design is my other biggy, often people model somthing without having a goal or end product in mind. This makes the process aimless and much time is spent on ambiguous tinkering.
People should consider so much more, the purpose of an object and emotion or mood of a character or scene.
Like with characters, silhouette is the number one biggy, biggy biggy and is constantly looked over.
... cue next rant, get it out your system guys