When George Lucas was thinking about and writing his early version of The Star Wars he would put his ideas down onto a yellow legal pad with a pencil. While his stories were amazing, he needed to be able to show people how his film The Star Wars could look. He engaged the services of an artist called Ralph McQuarrie and the rest is history.
Ralph took George's ideas and concepts and turned the words into the world that became Star Wars. Ralph did the robots, the villains, the landscapes and the heroes. His drawings lead to so many iconic things being in Star Wars and thus his influence on the world is very marked.
Sadly McQuarrie died some years ago but we can celebrate his work by examining the top ten pieces of concept art he drew for Lucas.
For C3PO, McQuarrie had pretty clear direction from George as to his design:
"Back when I was doing the initial concept artwork for Star Wars, George had photographs of the Metropolis robot, which he said he'd like C-3P0 to look like, except that I should make it a boy”.
This is Luke Starkiller looking over Mos Eisley as he was known at the time of drawing. Note the speed racer, C3PO and most importantly two suns floating in the sky. The two suns went on to famously feature in one of the most iconic Star Wars moments when Luke stared into them:
The Death Star was destroyed by Luke's torpedoes in A New Hope. Jedi originally was intended to repeat the formula with not one but two Death Star's being built above a plant called Had Abbadon. Here's what Ralph came up with as the conceptual design.
Chewbacca is the furriest of all the warriors in Star Wars. His original designs by McQuarrie were not quite the final product you can see in the move but Star Wars Rebels fans will be pleased to note these early designs have been used for the character known as Zeb.
A Jedi to be getting his training by Master Yoda in the swamps of Degobah.
Is there any thing less iconic in Star Wars than Luke Skywalker taking on the Empire all by himself down the trench run while Vader is taking pot shots at his X-Wing? No. There is not and McQuarrie's influence cannot be denied. The final look of the trench was more detailed but there is no denying that the X-Wing looks pretty damn cool:
If The Empire Strikes Back is considered one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, then it was Ralph's design work for the battle of Hoth that helped made it so awesome. Here's Luke contemplating his navel after his snow speeder crashed on the icy tundra.
This giant space tit joke has lasted the ages, but you'll have to agree, Empire looked awesome.