Ralph McQuarrie’s beautiful Star Wars concept art is brought to life in this trailer for The Star Wars
In 1975, George Lucas had written The Star Wars. He needed help in trying to visualise the film so it would be easier to pitch to the film studios.
Impressed with the art of Ralph McQuarrie, George met with him and commisioned him to create several paintings based on scenes in the script. You will see several of these now famous and iconic paintings at the beginning of the video below.
Concept art is now commonplace in big feature films and allows directors to visualise locations, vehicles, characters and scenes. Based on these images, the director can make changes to better suit their vision.
McQuarrie worked on the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy and his ideas were the basis for some of the most iconic designs.
In the original script, it mentioned that Darth Vader travelled from his spaceship to the rebel craft. McQuarrie mentioned to Lucas that surely he would need some kind of mask to enable him to breathe in space. Lucas had already described Vader as wearing samurai armour with a cape, so McQuarrie gave him a samurai helmet with breathing apparatus attached. The iconic image of Darth Vader was born.
The heroes of The Star Wars as imagined by Ralph McQuarrie.
These and other designs gradually evolved as Star Wars came to completion. But what if Lucas decided to go with his concept art with no changes?
This was the idea taken up by students at the school of DAVE (The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School). The graduating class of August and October 2017 took up this challenge utilising digital animation mixed with live action photography.
The results are beautiful. McQuarrie’s art comes to life as we watch a glimpse of an alternative universe where George Lucas created The Star Wars, a film with a female hero known as Luka Starkiller.
You may notice that McQuarrie’s version of Chewbacca is very familiar. It was this design that was taken and used in the television show Star Wars: Rebels for the character Zeb Orrelios.