Ralph McQuarrie was hired by George Lucas to create concept art for Star Wars. He is responsible for the look and feel of A New Hope, but his influence didn’t stop there. The Force Awakens used many of the pieces left over from the original trilogy, and even the prequels, though Doug Chang was hired for The Phantom Menace.
Here are the twelve best pieces of Ralph McQuarrie concept art:
12: Ewok village (I’m making these names up. McQuarrie didn’t name them).
Apparently this…monster…inspired Yoda’s look. It’s hard to tell whether the ewoks are small or the monster is big, but it’s cool either way.
11: Imperial Walkers
This is not the first drawing McQuarrie made of ATAT walkers, and probably not the most iconic either, but it really captures the feel of the walkers. The unused creature is a bonus. The rocks to the right are in a shadow–maybe there is a cave. It would make sense to run into a cave where the walkers can’t follow.
10: Original Millennium Falcon
The cockpit was the only part used in the film. The design may have inspired the Tantive IV.
9: Cloud City
Despite what they did to it in the movie, this picture makes it seem like a architectural wonder and a really expensive high-security capitol building. Maybe it would be if Vader and his sadistic thugs hadn’t holed up there.
8: Millennium Falcon 2
this is the version McQuarrie made after Lucas told him what he liked and didn’t like about the old one. It really captures the feel of the scene where it’s introduced.
This was before the harpoon idea, apparently. The AT-AT looks even more menacing now that there is nothing else in sight.
6: Luke vs. Vader, version 2
This is easily the most iconic Star Wars scene. It’s also a pretty convincing futuristic alien cityscape given that it was made in the ’70s. And it’s just as dizzying as it was in the movie.
5: Mos Eisley Cantina
C-3PO and a short version of R2 (inspiration for Chopper?) can be seen at the far left, along with a Tatooine sandtrooper. In the center, what would later become Han Solo is facing an idea for Greedo with Nightcrawler’s triangle shaped* tail, holding Padme’s gun. There is also a creepy owl sitting at a table.*
* /\ Illuminati confirmed. Whoever they are, McQuarrie knows something.
It’s hard to imagine that 3PO was ever this graceful, or that R2 walked instead of rolling (look at the footprints. They’re not continuous). But apparently Tatooine has two moons as well as two suns.
3: Mos Eisley Lookout
This drawing inspired the landspeeder, C-3pO, Zam Wessel’s sniper rifle, the dual sunset scene and the Mos Eisley spaceport, while setting an empty, desolate scene with seemingly little of interest. It makes a good desktop wallpaper on a computer.
2: X-wing vs TIE fighter
In one picture, McQuarrie invented the two most iconic starfighters and the Death Star trench run. The design for the original X-wings were slightly altered because of the limited budget for the film, but The Force Awakens incorporated it for the new T-70 X-wing.
1: Starkiller vs Vader
This is one of the first drawings McQuarrie made for Star Wars. It’s also one of the most famous, as it inspired Darth Vader’s look and invented the lightsaber.
Based on the pictures above, can you tell which one of these is from Ralph McQuarrie?
The answer will be in next week’s post.
Comment if you think you know!