Ralph McQuarrie: Star Wars Visual Origins

Ralph McQuarrie - Battle Concept

 

Ralph-McQuarrieWho is Ralph McQuarrie?
Ralph Angus McQuarrie was an American conceptual designer and illustrator. His career included work on the original Star Wars trilogy, the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. McQuarrie designed many of the film’s characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO and drew many concepts for the film’s sets. It was McQuarrie who suggested that Vader wear a breathing apparatus.

Why is he important?
Apparently  McQuarrie’s work set the tone and grounded the Stars Wars universe in an iconic visual style that still holds up today which the newest Star Wars movie is influenced by  – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Upon reviewing McQuarrie’s work, It is plain to see that the cinematic scenes used in the original Star Wars movie trilogy where directly lifted from McQuarrie’s early concept work. Before McQuarrie, Star Wars only had an intangible script with no visuals accompanying it. The Star Wars pitch had a hard time receiving funding due to the lack of visuals which made it hard for investors to envision at the time. as there were no clear art direction of what the characters, spaceships, and the universe would look like.

“Furthermore, McQuarrie’s visual style helped spawn movie, toy, and book deals forever cementing Star Wars as the world phenomenon it is today.”

When  McQuarrie established the visual basis for the Star Wars Universe it allowed investors, the film crew, and production companies to get an in-depth view of what the Star Wars brand would look like. Furthermore, McQuarrie’s visual style helped spawn movie, toy, and book deals forever cementing Star Wars as the world phenomenon it is today. From a creative and business perspective, this shows the pivotal role artists and designers  play in breathing life into a brand. Creatives and business owners alike must not undermine the value of art, creativity, and design.  Business owners – respect the artist/designer who is creating something that will help people invest in your product or service. For the artist/creative/designer please respect your work as you build trust with the things you create.

Further References
Youtube – Ralph McQuarrie: Tribute to a Master
Youtube – Star Wars On-Set Secrets ft. JonTron – Did You Know Movies
Wikipedia –  Star Wars

Some of McQuarrie’s Work