I realize this is excessive. I meant only to do three of them, but.... I read A. Leifferth's blog about how to prepare a panel, so off I went to the hard ware store to get some hardboard. I used a jig saw to cut the panels and then gessoed them twice, sanding in between. I need to get a squeegee to make the surface really smooth, no matter how much I sand the brush strokes are still in there. But it's ok for now. I like to be able to cut a narrow panel and work on odd sizes, for instance I thought it would be fun to do some tiny panels with candy on them or some other small objects. Also the whole thing is cheaper than buying already prepared panels. The drawback is that the jig saw sort of runs away with you and you have to be very focused and have Herculean strength to cut a straight line. Anyway, I was whipped after cutting three panel that were usable (slightly wobbly). When I put the panel on the easel I could see 3 cupcakes weren't going to fill it up, so I had to go for five. Then I had to deal with chocolate frosting and I was planning on only doing white as I have just got it down....but the chocolate was fun, not too scary, and now I can do chocolate AND vanilla.