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

Enjoy!

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Star Wars (1977)

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Drifter Obi-Wan Kenobi and Pigmy Luke?

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Hard to make out, but Leia’s outfit looks significantly cooler here than it did in the film.

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Stormtroopers with lightsabers? Now we know where The Force Awakens got the idea…

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Is Leia a blonde in this one?

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

McQuarrie’s Hoth art is really something special

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

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

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Interesting TIE Fighter design. The blue is a nice touch.

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

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…

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Return of the Jedi (1983)

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Different A-Wing designs? Not even sure if these were in Return of the Jedi

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm
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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

Okay, this Emperor Palpatine mock-up is just plain awesome. Lighting Goblin FTW!

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

 

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Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

(via: Buzzfeed)