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The Original Star Wars Concept Art Is Amazing

Incredible illustrations by artist Ralph McQuarrie. Not a trap.

1. Star Wars (1977)

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

2. Ralph McQuarrie (1929-2012) was an American conceptual designer and illustrator.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

3. In 1975, George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie to illustrate scenes from the script for Star Wars.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

4. McQuarrie designed many of the film’s characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

5. He also drew concepts for many of the film’s sets.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

6. “I just did my best to depict how I thought the film should look, I really liked the idea.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

7. “I didn’t think the film would get made. My impression was it was too expensive.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

8. “I thought there wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s too complicated.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

9. “But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.” – Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

10. Some of McQuarrie’s concepts are quite different from the finished film.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

In his renderings, light sabers were a single colour, and were carried by storm troopers and other non-Jedi/Sith characters, before Lucas fully developed the mythology and made them a Jedi weapon.

11. Other illustrations are very close to scenes that ended up in the finished film.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

12. “Ralph was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

13. “His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

14. “Propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy.” – George Lucas

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

15. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

16. “It’s really a testament to how important he was…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

17. “That there’s such a connection between a lot of those iconic images and the movie scenes.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

18. “The way that he illustrated them was an influence on those characters, how they acted.” – George Lucas

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

22. “When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s illustrations and say…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

23. “‘Do it like this.’” – George Lucas

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

26. “It was a special opportunity to start from the ground up.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

27. “Being able to create new characters, vehicles and worlds…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

28. “And since when I started it wasn’t clear that the film would be made…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

29. “I didn’t have to limit myself.” – Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

30. It was McQuarrie who suggested that Vader wear breathing apparatus.

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

“George had described Darth Vader as having flowing black robes. In the script, Vader had to jump from one ship to another.”

31. “To survive the vacuum of space, I felt he needed some sort of breathing mask.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

“George said, ‘OK,’ suggested adding a samurai helmet, and Darth Vader was born.”

32. “Simple as that.” – Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

33. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

34. “Ralph was a very special person for many more reasons than his undeniable brilliance with a brush.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

35. “Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

36. “All of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

37. “Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

38. “Which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

39. “His influence on design will be felt forever.”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

40. “There’s no doubt that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

41. “Future cities will rise…”

42. “And someone, somewhere will say…”

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

43. “That looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.” – George Lucas

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

All images sourced from Star Wars: The Art of Ralph McQuarrie. Art work reproduced here with permission of Dreams and Vision Press.

Ralph McQuarrie quotes from here, and here. George Lucas quotes from here.

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