The Original Star Wars Concept art is amazing. While George Lucas has become a household name, these illustrations bear witness to the incredible influence that the late Ralph McQuarrie had on the massively successful franchise. Does the name Ralph McQuarrie fail to ring a bell? His name might not seem familiar, but his vision for the Star Wars movies has made a lasting impression in cinema. In 1975 he was commissioned to illustrate scenes for the Star Wars script, and you can see for yourself how imaginative and vivid they are. My favourite part of his illustrations is the old-western feel he imbues into many of the scenes.
Ralph McQuarrie’s contributions extended beyond the drawing board. A great example of that is his influence on the presentation of Darth Vader: Ralph realized that Darth Vader would need some sort of breathing apparatus in order for him to jump from space ship to space ship – an idea that resulted in the development of Darth’s iconic mask. The great consequence of that idea is that it allowed James Earl Jones to play Darth Vader, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to (it would be a little odd for James Earl Jones to be Luke’s father, if you see what I mean) – and what would Darth Vader have been without Jones’ deep, threatening voice?
R2-D2 and C-3PO also owe their appearance to Ralph McQuarrie. George Lucas also attests that Ralph’s illustrations had an influence on the actors. I’m sure it helped give them a feel for the overall vision of the film, much of which otherwise wouldn’t have been apparent to them until production had finished.
I believe Ralph’s hesitation to believe such a grand and expensive movie could really get made gave him a certain amount of artistic freedom when designing the characters and sets. He had the chance to aim for the stars, if you’ll pardon the expression. Ralph claimed that he didn’t believe there would be a large enough audience to justify such a costly movie. I imagine that was the last time he doubted George Lucas.
Now it’s time for you to take a look at his art for yourself by visiting the Buzzfeed link below.