The painting itself is fairly large (20"x24" is large to me, anyway!), but the figures themselves were small. I knew my friend loved the intricate hairstyles with braids and flowers, and that was going to be pretty detailed. I really wasn't sure how I was going to tackle that, so I just dove in and found a way through trial and error. I was originally just painting the hair medium brown and trying to add the dark and light highlights separately, but being so small, any detail was getting totally lost and didn't look good.
I realized it's much easier to paint on a light surface, so I painted all the braids and highlights white and then slowly added in the darkest details and shadows on the braids. I left the lightest parts white, because I was going to go over it with a glaze, later. I also painted highlights and shadows where there were no small details.
I then glazed over the white with a few transparent coats of lighter brown, so the hair would have highlights and show off all the intricate braids. It ended up that the girls in the painting have a little lighter hair than they do in real life, but that's artistic license ;-) I know my friend really loved the braided styles, and her sisters all wore their hair in styles like this for her wedding, so it was important to showcase it.