The Star Wars Art of Ralph McQuarrie

The recent post I did for Star Wars Day made me think about doing a showcase of the artwork Ralph McQuarrie did for Star Wars.

There would probably be no Star Wars if it wasn’t for Ralph McQuarrie. He visualised George Lucas’s ideas for Star Wars and created images Lucas could show film executives to get them interested in the project. His images created the look for not only A New Hope but also for the other two films of the Star Wars Original Trilogy.

When I first saw his drawings (after seeing the films) to me they hinted at a Star Wars Universe that seemed stranger and more tantalisingly mysterious. At least that was my reaction to them.

I thought I would share some of his images that I really love from A New Hope. I might do another post showing his concept artwork for the other two films at a later date.


a5890In this early drawing the characters look very different. There seems to be no Han Solo-type character (maybe the Jedi is an amalgam of both Kenobi and Solo), Luke is a girl, while C-3PO looks more like the robot from Metropolis (which was an inspiration for his look).


a5888Another early drawing with C-3PO still looking like he came from Metropolis and R2-D2 seems to have a few extra attachments.


a5874Luke looking out at Mos Eisley? The droids are there but no Obi-Wan Kenobi.


a5876The Millennium Falcon in Docking Bay 94 almost looking exactly like the completed film version.


a5878I think this was the first drawing McQuarrie completed. He created the look of Darth Vader with this image and it was his suggestion that Vader should be in a breathing apparatus which Lucas agreed with. He is meant to be fighting Luke Starkiller (or Skywalker as he becomes) in a match-up that didn’t end up happening until The Empire Strikes Back. I like how Starkiller is in some sort of strange outfit himself.


a5871Pilot of a TIE fighter attacking the Millennium Falcon. This image was realised in the film after the Falcon and her crew escape the Death Star and are attacked by four TIE fighters.


a5893The Rebel pilots at the Rebel Base on Yavin IV getting ready to take off in their starfighters to attack the Death Star.


a5872TIE fighter and X-Wing dogfight over the Death Star.


a5873Y-Wings attacking the Death Star. Note how the Death Star is not so smooth looking and seems to have some sort of opening in its pole.


a5886I think this may be an image for The Empire Strikes Back, but I include it here because I love this picture and I have some sort of weird obsession with Star Destroyers. When I think of a capital starship I always immediately think of an Imperial Star Destroyer. There’s something about their angular wedge design I adore.


a5877This was an early design for the Millennium Falcon but was rejected. It became the Corellian Gunship and you can see one briefly in Return of the Jedi.


a5894This scene at the beginning of The Phantom Menace, the first of the Prequels, reminded me of the above picture. I wondered if it was a nod at Ralph McQuarrie‘s picture. By then Doug Chiang was doing the initial concept design. Ralph McQuarrie was asked but he declined (he also had quite noticeable shaking from Parkinson’s Disease by then).

Well I hoped you liked this article. If you want more like this let me know.


Please buy me a coffee! 🙂








One thought on “The Star Wars Art of Ralph McQuarrie

  1. As a writer, I’m fascinated by the way the writer’s initial concept changes over times, especially over the course of making a movie. Though in this case, because George Lucas retained control, the original images remained fairly true.
    Many thanks for sharing the images.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s