Ralph McQuarrie, Visionary Star Wars Concept Artist, Dies At 82

By Steve West | 9 years ago

Ralph McQuarrie, the man responsible for the incredible designs of the world of Star Wars, has passed away at the age of 82. A visionary artist, he designed the characters and feel of the original films and was instrumental in making the aesthetic of the movies so iconic. We’ve included some of his concept artwork in the gallery below for anyone unfamiliar with his work. It’s fantastic to see what was envisioned contrasted to the final product. In particular his version of Darth Vader had far more movement and fluid grace in a single image than in all the films.

In addition to Star Wars McQuarrie also worked on other projects such as concept artwork for the old Battlestar Galactica series. But it’s in his work on Star Wars that he had the biggest impact. He went on to help design such beloved films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, and Total Recall; but his concept art secured Lucas his deal with 20th Century Fox to make Star Wars. We truly have Ralph McQuarrie to thank for getting Star Wars made. Some of the images he created are as iconic to sci-fi fans as the movies themselves. I’m particularly partial to the C-3PO image where I think it’s the only time the droid has a look of quiet dignity and composure.

Ralph McQuarrie will be greatly missed, but he has left a lasting impact on the visual art of genre storytelling. His work has inspired so many to move forward and create such amazing worlds. I always felt that the secret to what McQuarrie did with those initial concept pieces was to imbue the characters with life, and in turn helped to reenergize the genre film industry that is still going strong.