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First of all, I recommend Shirlee Kalstone's book "Complete Poodle Clipping and Grooming".

Here, though, are some tips:
To clip the face, first clip from the center of the ear canal opening to the corner of the eye. Never, ever clip higher than the corner of the eye, but you might go a bit higher near the ear. Then make a V with your thumb and index finger and slide your hand down the neck until it naturally comes to a stopping point - that should be the lowest point of clipping the neck. Clip from the opening of the ear canal down to that lowest point on the neck. You have now set the limits of the face clipping, so continue to remove facial hair clipping against the grain. You'll need to stretch the corner of the mouth to clip the lower jaw. Be very careful clipping near the mouth - it's easy to cut the skin there. Clip upwards against the grain to get the hair under the eye - and, again, be careful clipping around the eye.

To shape the topknot, scissor straight up from the cheek and muzzle. It is very important not to tip the scissors back toward the ears when clipping the front of the topknot - that results in a very unpleasant expression.

Another beginner mistake is clipping the feet too high. Only the feet are clipped short, not the bottom of the leg!

Finally - keep in mind that hair grows back. If you make a mistake you'll know better next time!
 

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Thank you for this! The face is really hard for me, especially around the eyes.
Another beginner mistake is clipping the feet too high. Only the feet are clipped short, not the bottom of the leg!
How high is too high? I try to clip down from where the ankle is, folding the dog's paw up and clipping down from that spot--is that too high?
 
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