Set up at least three objects in a still life arrangement. Pick objects that are simple in shape (cylinders, cones, spheres, cubes) and neutral in color and lacking in overt texture. Objects like paper towel rolls, small undecorated boxes, work well. Place the objects on a neutral surface such as a plain non-textured tablecloth or just a big piece of white paper.
Light the objects from one directed light source.
Make sure when you squint your eyes you see dark, light and shades of grays in value on in around your objects. The values on your table are part of your light structure too! The space above your table and objects we will consider negative and you are allowed to make this space a single value.
Divide a piece of your Strathmore 400 paper into three sections.
In the top section simplify your light structure to black and white.
Any value reflected from your still life that is gray but closer to black, make black. Any value closer to white, make white. The above negative space make either black or white.
In the middle section use three values, black, white and middle gray, looking at the same still life from the same point of view.
On the bottom section, again repeat the procedure, but now use five distinct values equal distance apart on the value scale;black,dark gray,middle gray,light gray and white.
Use compressed and vine charcoal.
On the first section, I would not gray your paper, but you can on section two and three, if you wish, and use your plastic eraser to get your whites.