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Ralph McQuarrie - Artist

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In ways both figurative and literal, without Ralph McQuarrie, there would be no Star Wars. George Lucas had confidence in his compelling characters and dramatic stories, but also knew it would take more than his words and descriptions to convince a studio to support such an ambitious project. Lucas reached out to McQuarrie to help visualize the planets, vehicles, and characters he only saw in his head. The artwork this duo created not only helped convince studios to fund Star Wars, but McQuarrie’s style crafted the visual design of the entire galaxy to come. 

Although McQuarrie only directly worked on the first three films, his presence would be felt for years to come. When artists Doug Chiang and Marc Gabbana began working on concept art for Episodes I, II and III, they often found themselves asking, “What would Ralph do?” In addition to creating original artwork, Chiang, Gabbana, and many other artists looked to unused and unfinished concepts from McQuarrie’s work on the previous films, allowing his legacy to inspire them. Whether the artists on those films tried to echo McQuarrie’s style or tried to make sure audiences would see wholly new things they’d never seen before, his work established the visual feel in countless ways. Supervising director Dave Filoni also dug deep into the McQuarrie archives to help him flesh out worlds in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as well as finding ways to include his personal favorite pieces of McQuarrie’s that he’d been familiar with for years.

To this day, McQuarrie’s work continues to inspire not just The Force Awakens and Star Wars Rebels, but science fiction fans across the world. Among his great works, here are some standouts.