Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie 1929-2012

Ralph McQuarrie, the visionary concept artist whose paintings were the basis for the STAR WARS landscape, has died at the age of 82.

McQuarrie had a storied career which included work at Boeing, and creating Apollo space flight animations for CBS News. He created the concept art which was crucial in winning 20th Century Fox’s approval to put George Lucas’ first STAR WARS film into production. He is widely credited as the man who designed the iconic Darth Vader.

The success of his work led to a marvelous film career that included designing such classics as ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, BACK TO THE FUTURE, COCOON, and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. That’s his drawing in Indiana Jones’ book in the first act of RAIDERS:


The concept-design stage of a film is the most vital and often overlooked aspect of film production. It is not just the foundation of a film, it is the design of the foundation that everything is built upon. Movies give us worlds that we wish to live in, and those worlds have to be created first. In the last 40 years no one has done that better than Ralph McQuarrie.

Much of his artwork can be found at

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