Ralph McQuarrie design sketches including the original C3PO and Chewbacca drawings

Dec 27, 2020

space nipple gun star wars
Space Nipples

Ralph McQuarrie design sketches for Star Wars

The artistic work of Ralph McQuarrie where he turned George Lucas’ written ideas into concept artwork is the stuff of legend. 

His many works have shaped the Star Wars universe like no other, other than Lucas himself. Even his discarded works were used in the Disney Sequel Trilogy. 

His famous drawings are fully realised, coloured and well designed. 

But MacQuarrie didn't simply just start and finish his work as a single piece.

Like many artists, he had to plan his work and he did this by doodles and sketches – here are some of his pencil works!

Let's start with C3PO as robots are awesome.

For C3PO, McQuarrie had pretty clear design brief from Lucas:

"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”.

Here’s an initial sketch, a template of sorts through to the concept art (which legend has it convinced Anthony Daniels to accept the role).

That's the stuff of legends.


original c3po design sketch


This is the celebrated concept art that was McQuarrie's final design of our favourite robot comedy duo, not the two moons of Tatooine was already an idea:


What’s great to see is the gradual design process evolving. Take this one of Chewbacca. He looks nothing like the furry beast that eventually came to be used, however, the key elements of the chest bandolier piece is there.




The middle dude. 

Does he look familiar?

You may recognise him as Zeb Orrelios from the Rebels show - another case of Lucas film mining the McQuarrie archive of unused works. 

More from Tatooine, the Gamorrean Guards - eventually they ended up being the Green Pigs everyone knows from Return of the Jedi:



Here's McQuarrie's original thought on what Jabba's Rancor could look like.


Not too scary huh?

The design progressed to eventually become:


The classic Jawa Sail barge:

Jawa sail barge sketch

An early version of Darth Vader:


Which is fairly close to the final form Vader took,  the Nazi elements came later of course. 

Snow speeder from The Empire Strikes Back

Hang on Dakk!

If you're keen on Peter Jackson movies, check out this concept art from Mortal Engines!

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