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devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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Sculpting A Persian, Part 4: Mistakes To Avoid

Especially when first starting to learn how to sculpt a Persian cat, is is almost inevitable that mistakes will be made. It is part of the learning process.

Mistakes usually fall into one of four basic categories:

  • Too Little: The cat’s face is still too hairy, obscuring the beauty of the Persian.
  • Too Much: Too much hair has been removed making parts of the head appear out of proportion.
  • Lack of Roundness: Some areas are not round but instead has corners or points.
  • Uneven Sculpting: One side the the face does not match the other side of the face.

Too Little

When you first start sculpting, you will probably err on the side of doing too little. This is partially due to not knowing what to do exactly — so you do nothing :-). There is also the understandable fear of doing too much.

Too Much

Until you do too much, you often will not know how much is “enough”. Too much is a good learning experience — and one you usually do not forget. So don’t be afraid of doing too much, just try to do it well before the show so the hair has time to grow back if necessary. Or better yet, practice on a retired show kitty.

Lack of Roundness

The goal of all sculpting is to produce roundness. But it is not always as easy as it sounds. Cheeks may appear more square than round, or have points or flat edges. Ear tips may be pointed. 

Uneven Sculpting

Uneven sculpting is most obvious in the cheeks and smile lines. It is perhaps the most unfortunate of the mistakes, because it can be the hardest to correct. Often only time will provide you with adequate hair to even things out again. 

Errors when sculpting can be a combination of the different types of mistakes too.

Your sculpting can be too much and be uneven. Or because something is uneven, you may end up removing too much in an attempt to make both sides even, and before you know it you have gone too far. Or you can have too little done on the top of the head and too little on the cheeks and the chin can be uneven and… well, you get the picture.

Examples of Mistakes When Sculpting

A picture is worth a thousand words… so let’s look at some examples of sculpting mistakes. 

Too Little Sculpting

Most groomers are understandably afraid of removing too much hair — so they take off too little.

This pretty red Persian has a round head, tiny ears, big eyes, and a sweet expression, but her sculpting isn’t allowing her to look her best. Far too much hair is left on her cheeks, which has thrown the proportions of her face out of kilter.

  • Her smile line extends too far down her face before turning up. 
  • The bottom of her smile line is underneath her correctly placed chin line.
  • Her cheeks are too wide and out of proportion to the rest of her head. The long hair on her cheeks is called “Mutton Chops” or “Whooskies”.
  • Instead of being round, her head shape is a trapezoid — a square with the bottom side longer than the top.
Let’s look at how her sculpting could be improved:

  • The blue lines follow the kitty’s natural smile line.
  • Remove the hair on the cheeks that falls outside the blue guide lines using thinning shears and/or plucking.
  • Notice that the chin now fits smoothly into the blue guide lines.

  • To show off her curved tophead, remove any of the hair sticking above the blue guide using thinning shears.
  • Cut or pluck any whiskers that curl in front the cat’s eyes. 

Too Much Sculpting

Removing too much hair, especially from the cheeks is the hallmark of an over-sculpted Persian. 

This is a beautiful blue Persian with a big coat, however too much sculpting on the head has resulted in its head appearing completely separated from the body. It looks pasted on. 

  • The problem is a result of sculpting the cheek line right up the sides of the head to behind the ears, instead of blending the top of the cheeks into the ruff. 
  • This cat’s head would be more balanced if the cheeks were fuller and the smile line was extended down a bit further before curving upwards.

Lack of Roundness

The goal of sculpting a Persian is for the head and all its component parts to appear round. Sometime however, the head may appear more oblong than round. Or the head may seem more square than round.

Uneven Sculpting

Arguably the most common mistake made is uneven sculpting — one side of the face is sculpted differently from the other.

This is a lovely brown tabby Persian. Like many tabbies, his ears are a bit big, but everything else is wonderful. He has a round tophead, massive head, deep break, and full coat, What do you think of the sculpt? Would you change anything? Here is what I see.

  • The sculpting on the cheeks is uneven.
  • The smile lines actually have a corner where they come down from the nose and then change direction.
  • Looking at the photo, the cheek on the right is the better attempt at creating a curved cheek and smile line. On the right there is a gouge of hair missing.
  • The chin hair hangs down well below the smile lines/cheeks. You might think it doesn’t look like it has been sculpted at all except you can see there is an area under the chin that suggests  hair has been removed, but from the ruff area. This is what happens if your start to sculpt a chin too far down.

To help you see the problems in the sculpting, lines are drawn on the photo below to help you compare the two halves of the face, especially the cheeks, smile lines and chin:

With the lines in place you can see how uneven the cheeks are. The cheek on the right side of the photo has been sculpted too much compared to the cheek on the left side of the photo. The bottom of the cheek is not round.

The photo below has perfect cheeks and smile lines drawn on. Now you can easily see the differences between the 2 cheeks — and also how even the better cheek on the left could be improved.

The chin hair has been left too long. Instead of blending into the roundness of the bottom of the face, the chin hair resembles the beard on a billy-goat.

The chin should create a smooth curve as it blends into the cheeks.

You can tell that the hair above the eyes is poking well beyond the eye because it is actually casting a shadow over the eye. Trim the hair above the eye would open the eyes up and make them appear rounder and larger. I would remove a few of the whiskers, particularly the ones that curve in more than the straight ones. 

Now take a look again at the photo of the cat again. Can you now critique the sculpting and know how to improve it?

Tip: If you are unsure what to do next when sculpting, or if you wonder if you should stop all together, take a photo of your Persian’s head with the kitty looking straight into the camera. Studying a photo may help you notice the details easier.


It is relatively easy to look at a very bad sculpting job and know what went wrong. But to educate your eye, the next step is to look at good sculpting and decide where there might be room for improvement. Remember, we are aiming for perfection.

So look at each cat’s photo below BEFORE reading the text. When you look, analyze the face. Is there anything you would do differently to maximize the beauty, roundness and perfection of the face? And be tough in your evaluation — after-all, we are nit-picking 🙂

Example #1: Mutton Chops, No Smile Line, Flat Tophead

This cat has a massive head. However, because there is no curve up to his smile line, and he has mutton chops, his head appears more square than round. The bottom half of his face appears narrower than his broad tophead. To balance his tophead, his cheeks should have been fuller. Round off the tophead and trim the ear tips.

Example #2: Hairy Ears, Frown Lines, Upside Down “Y” Break

This kitty’s grooming falls into the “too little” category. While he has small ears, the long hair on the tips makes them appear large and pointed. He also has frown between his eyes that distracts from his expression. These frown lines also form an upside down “Y” in his break. This could be make softer by cutting in the proper break line to emphasize it.

Example #3: Horns, Pointed Ears, Shaded Eyes, Wild Whiskers

This bicolor has a nice round head. The cheeks and chin fit into a nice curve. But the angle of this photo really allows you to see that although the hairs above her eyes have been trimmed, they are still overhanging her eyes and make the eyes look oval-shaped rather than round. If the hairs from the inside corner to the topmost point of the eye were trimmed a bit more, it would open up her eye and allow its roundness to be revealed.

Her ears are pointed and large but could be minimized with trimming. The horns on the tophead should be removed along with those wild white whiskers.

Example #4: Hairy Ears, Distracting Whiskers, Uneven Cheeks

This Copper-Eyed White has a spectacular rounding arc between the ears. Nice smile line and chin. As you look at the photo the right cheek is fuller than the left cheek. The tips of the ears are hairy. Trim to the edge and the ears will look so much smaller. Pluck the distracting whiskers in front of his eyes and nose.

Example #5: Hilly Tophead, Hairy Ears & Distracting Whiskers

Some cats grow long guard hairs. While the long hairs are beautiful on the body, they do not contribute to a nice look when present on the head. You can really see this tortie’s long guard hairs when you look at her tophead between her ears. Trim the hairs into an arch using a combination of thinning shears and scissors. Round off the ear tips. Remove the distracting whiskers.

Example #6: Uneven Cheeks, Double Chin, Horns

This beautiful boy’s cheeks have been sculpted unevenly. He also has a “double chin”. His top chin line blends in properly to his smile line, however he has a second “chin” line underneath the first one.  This is what happens if you initially begin sculpting a chin line too far down. Trim the tophead into a curve and remove the wild whiskers.

Example #7: Shaded Eyes, Long Smile Lines, Distracting Whiskers

This handsome Persian has an incredible tophead with a beautiful natural curve without trimming. Although he has nice round eyes, the hair on the top is shading his eyes making them appear oval. He needs his smile lines shortened a nd curved upas they are pulling his face down. His white markings makes this illusion worse. Those extra long white whiskers are amusing simple because they turn up so much and are the same on both sides, but they should be removed for a more polished look.

We would like to thank the owners of the cats pictured in this article for their generosity in allowing us to critique their sculpting in order to help teach others how to improve their skills.

Final Thoughts

I hope you now have a better idea of some of the things to look for now when you start to sculpt the face of your Persian. If you are just beginning to sculpt, it’s best to practice on a kitty at home who has no show plans. That way if you do go too far, there is no harm done to any show plans. But even if you make a mistake, it can be corrected. Sculpting is a constantly learning process, because every cat is different. 

A mistake is just another word for an opportunity to learn.

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GC, BW, NW Granddelight PJ of Mockingbird

Cream & White Persian Female

CFA’s 2nd Best Cat In Championship, 1996-97

Born: Born Oct 20,1995
Sire: GC Furfrenz Chaucer
Dam: Bolo It’s My Party
Breeder: B-L Hayashi
Owner: Lee Harper

Photo by Chanan