If you’re a Star Wars fan and have never heard of Ralph McQuarrie, you’ve been missing out on one of the most important visionaries behind the original trilogy. McQuarrie (1929-2010) was an American conceptual designer and illustrator. In 1975, George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie to illustrate scenes from the script for Star Wars.
McQuarrie designed many of the film’s characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO. He also drew concepts for many of the film’s sets.
“I just did my best to depict how I thought the film should look, I really liked the idea. I didn’t think the film would get made. My impression was it was too expensive. I thought there wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s too complicated.”
“But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.”
The following gallery, which collects over 40 pieces of McQuarrie’s stunning concept art, runs a wide spectrum of deviating considerably from the finished product and being almost identical to what appeared in the final product.
“Ralph was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production painting, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy.” – George Lucas
Star Wars (1977)
Drifter Obi-Wan Kenobi and Pigmy Luke?
Hard to make out, but Leia’s outfit looks significantly cooler here than it did in the film.
Stormtroopers with lightsabers? Now we know where The Force Awakens got the idea…
Is Leia a blonde in this one?
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
McQuarrie’s Hoth art is really something special
The snowspeeder designs ended up being a little different, but these are still pretty cool. Would love to see them as an alternate vehicle skin in Star Wars Battlefront
Interesting TIE Fighter design. The blue is a nice touch.
Vader looks largely the same here, but what’s going on with Luke? That is one crazy (but cool) spacesuit. Wonder what’s up with the gas mask…
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Different A-Wing designs? Not even sure if these were in Return of the Jedi…
Okay, this Emperor Palpatine mock-up is just plain awesome. Lighting Goblin FTW!