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Star Wars Conceptual Artist Ralph McQuarrie dies at 82

Via Variety.

Conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie, who designed the look of “Star Wars” characters including Darth Vader and Chewbacca, died Saturday, March 3, in Berkeley, Calif. He was 82 and had been suffering from Parkinson’s.

George Lucas hired him to illustrate scenes from his “Star Wars” script, and McQuarrie not only created the look of characters Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO but also of some of the sets, including of the desert world Tatooine. His conceptual drawings helped convince 20th Century Fox execs to finance the film.

In a statement, Lucas said: “His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.'”

It’s easy to forget now but back in 1975 when Star Wars was just an idea, a concept and just WORDS on a page, Ralph McQuarrie’s illustrations brought it all to life – envisioning an ENTIRE world of what it might look like.

Unfortunately most of his Art of books for the first three Star Wars books are out of print but maybe they will bring many back. This one is still in print. They used to release print portfolios for each film.

Of course, Hasbro released a series of action figures based on Ralph’s concepts of what characters/outfits/designs might look like – HERE & HERE.

You can check out his dazzling work for Star Wars plus a few dozen other iconic films at his website.

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4 March 2012 Film 4 Comments


  • hypercarrots says:

    concept vehicles were also produced in galoobs action fleet alpha line

    i have the art of star wars books. they are very nice.

  • John in Missouri says:

    I read about his passing earlier today, very sad, but a very fulfilled life.

  • cac1959 says:

    Rest in peace, Ralph… amazing art that helped bring the entire Star Wars film series to life… I was in high school when the the first Star Wars film was released… it lives on, 35 years later.

    • tizmanian says:

      So was I, Cac1959…I saw that movie seven times opening weekend. My dad thought I lost my mind. My buddies and I were making films since the fifth grade and we all loved scifi so this was a something we went crazy for back when it was in pre-production. I still have the issue of Starlog that debuted some of the film images. What a fantastic story. I still have the original paperback I bought in a book section of a store called O’Neils (now Kaufmans) and saw that it was going to be made into a movie and I thought “How in the world are they going to do that?!” but I couldn’t wait! That book has one of Ralph’s drawings on the cover.

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