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Ralph McQuarrie, Famed Star Wars Concept Artist, Passes Away

Ralph McQuarrie, the legendary artist who designed such iconic Star Wars characters as Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, R2-D2 and C-3PO, passed away Saturday at age 82. He is survived by his wife Joan.

George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie in 1975 to illustrate several scenes from his script, bringing the director’s vision to life in conceptual paintings used to convince 20th Century Fox to fund the project.

“His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy,” Lucas said in a statement. “When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.'”

While McQuarrie is best known for his conceptual designs for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — he’s the one who suggested Darth Vader wear a breathing apparatus — he also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica television series and such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“His influence on design will be felt forever,” a statement on McQuarrie’s website reads. “There’s no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say… ‘that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.'”


  • Douglas Nelson

    Thanks for the vision Ralph McQuarrie.

  • Anonymous

    A masterful artist who designed the look of modern sci-fi. You will be missed, Ralph!!!

  • << Work at home, $45/h, link

    Like father, like son

  • Richard Simonsen Jr.

    Sad about his death but I know he was sick something.  You can see it in the interview he did for star wars dvd from few years back.

  • Statham

    Truly stunning. A man who changed the face of sci-fi and allowed us to enjoy some truly epic franchises. We’re at a loss without him.

  • Gldarci

    An amazing artist…he will be missed.

  • << Work at home, $45/h, link

    Rest in peace, Ralph McQuarrie

  • Adam Strange

    My young eyes were once dazzled by your mind’s vision. So long…

  • Simon Garrett

    RIP Ralph – the man who made Star Wars look awesome..