Ralph McQuarrie imagined a universe that continues to inspire several generations of movie and science fiction lovers forty years after the premiere of star wars.
With these words, George Lucas remembered the American illustrator and designer a few days after his death in March 2013.
Because if it was Lucas who kept the star wars flame alive, Ralph McQuarrie was the one who lit the fuse.
Through his illustrations
McQuarrie imagined a world without limits that not only served to portray the landscapes and scenarios imagined by George Lucas. But to give life to iconic characters such as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, C3PO or R2-D2.
Born in 1929, Ralph McQuarrie graduated in Illustration at the Art Center School in Los Angeles.
He started working as a designer at the Boeing Aircraft Company. later, to be one of those in charge to illustrate the missions Apollo of the NASA in the transmissions that did the CBS.
In the mid-1970s, while collaborating sporadically on designing film posters, screenwriter and producer Hal Barwood asked him to illustrate some scenes of the project he was working on. The movie, Star Dancing, never came to fruition. However, George Lucas was impressed by their work.
There, Lucas told him about plans to bring his space opera to the big screen. McQuarrie accepted the job and went to work, designing all kinds of ships, landscapes, and characters.
These early illustrations were key to convincing Fox executives, who financed the film immediately.
The rest is history.
The success of the first installment led McQuarrie to continue the fruitful alliance with Lucas, working as a conceptual designer within the art department and making the sketches and mate painting of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983).
In fact, in The Empire Strikes Back he had a small cameo playing General Pharl McQuarrie in the sequence of the Battle of Hoth.
(In the center of the bottom image)
After his participation in the original trilogy of, McQuarrie continued working as a conceptual designer and visual effects designer in films such as In Search of Lost Ark (1981), ET: The Extraterrestrial (1982) or Cocoon (1986). For the latter she won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the only statue she got.
In the mid-1990s, with the prequels already underway, McQuarrie decided not to continue working on them.
Books such as star wars Art Concept and The Art of Ralph McQuarrie compile some of their best illustrations.