R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

The creative arts felt another significant loss over the weekend with the passing of Ralph McQuarrie, the famed production illustrator who helped conceive much of the look of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. He was 82-years-old.

McQuarrie was hired by George Lucas in 1975 to illustrate scenes from the script to ‘Star Wars’. His designs are said to have played a significant role in convincing 20th Century Fox to fund the movie. He also contributed to the two sequels. Among the iconic imagery that he created were designs for the characters of Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca, as well as X-Wing fighters, AT-AT Walkers and the Endor speeder bikes.

Outside of ‘Star Wars’, McQuarrie also worked on ‘Close Encounters’, ‘E.T.’ and the original ‘Battlestar Galactica’ TV show. In 1986, he shared the Best Visual Effects Academy Award for his work in ‘Cocoon’.

McQuarrie retired in the early 1990s and did not participate in the ‘Star Wars’ prequel trilogy. He passed away on Saturday.

McQuarrie’s artwork has been collected in books such as ‘The Illustrated Star Wars Universe‘. You can find more samples at his official web site.

Hasbro even produced a line of action figures based on his concept designs.

[via The Wrap]


  1. This is a real shame, although at least his work will always be remembered. I have all of the originally trilogy ‘Art Of’ books crammed with his work, along with countless other books with his paintings and illustrations and the portfolios of his paintings for the original trilogy as well.

    He’s certainly been a major artistic inspiration for me since I was a child. RIP Ralph McQuarrie!

  2. EM

    I was also saddened by McQuarrie’s passing, but I am overjoyed that his œuvre remains (no Lucas-mandated retouches as yet!).

    McQuarrie’s production paintings for the first Star Wars trilogy are beautiful masterworks in their own right (the above painting of the Hoth battle is a classic). I was first exposed to them in The Art of Star Wars and in bubblegum cards, where they helped foster in me an appreciation for fine painting and for the broader creative process. Since many of the paintings offer design and even story differences from the “finished” (ahem) films, they provide glimpses into alternate worlds that, despite their status as early conceptions, seem mature, fully formed, even alive.

    Thank you, Ralph McQuarrie. The Force will be with you…always.

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