Posts Tagged ‘Ralph McQuarrie’



An Annotated Guide to The Star Wars Portfolio by Ralph McQuarrie

John Scoleri | January 14, 2014

For those of us who were there in the beginning (myself being a member of the “age seven in ’77″ club), Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars Portfolio holds a very special place in our hearts. And yet as familiar as Star Wars fans have become with the 21 paintings within the portfolio, few know that many of them had gone through numerous revisions during the film’s production. In the 16 years I knew Ralph, and particularly during the period when we were working on The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (Dreams and Visions Press, 2007), we had several opportunities to speak at length about those original paintings, and the Ballantine portfolio that introduced so many of us to Ralph and his work.

As beautiful as Ralph’s paintings are, he was always quick to point out they were never intended to be seen by anyone beyond those involved in bringing the film to life. He often said that had he known, he would have tried to put more of a polish on them (as if they needed it). But the success of Star Wars, and the resulting clamoring from the fans for any and all Star Wars merchandise they could get their hands on, would ultimately change Ralph’s life.

Judy Lynn Del Rey, who had been with Ballantine since 1973, saw Ralph’s art early in the negotiations to acquire the film’s publishing license, and recognized its potential as commercial art. She hired Ralph to paint the cover of the Star Wars novelization released in fall 1976, launching a relationship that would result in Ralph’s providing 22 additional cover paintings for Del Rey books from 1978-1987.

Star Wars novelization cover

The first printing of the Star Wars novelization sold out its entire run prior to the film’s release (one can safely assume in some part thanks to Ralph’s amazing, evocative cover illustration). Once the film was released and an unparalleled success, Del Rey had further plans as how to capitalize on Ralph’s art.

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SWCVI: Ralph McQuarrie Retrospective: First 4 Minutes

StarWars.com Team | August 24, 2012

On August 24, 2012 at Star Wars Celebration VI, fans witnessed the premiere screening of the Ralph McQuarrie Retrospective. Now, take an exclusive look at the first 4 minutes of the film.

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SWCVI: The Art of Ralph McQuarrie

John Scoleri | August 9, 2012

It sounds like a cliché, but when it comes to The Art of Ralph McQuarrie, preparations for the next Star Wars Celebration pretty much begin on the flight home from the last one.

Despite having exhibited at all seven prior Star Wars Celebrations, Celebration V was a particularly challenging undertaking for us. For the first time ever, we curated a gallery exhibit with more than 100 pieces of Ralph’s original Star Wars art — the majority of which had never been seen before.

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How To Spot a Ralph McQuarrie

J.W. Rinzler | August 8, 2012
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A Ralph McQuarrie concept artwork or a licensed artwork?

The easy answer is, look for an awe inspiring composition, a refined color palette, dynamic character poses, and original ideas. But my job in researching the Making of Return of the Jedi was to differentiate between a McQuarrie production illustration and his licensed artwork. Not so easy as it might sound, as they’re all stored together in the archives.

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Celeb Fans Remember Artist Ralph McQuarrie

StarWars.com Team | March 5, 2012

This week marks the sad passing of conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie. The legendary conceptual artist not only inspired filmmaker George Lucas making Star Wars possible, but also other future directors, actors, screenwriters and more, not to mention millions of fans worldwide.

We asked some of our favorite celebrity fans what McQuarrie meant to them, as well as gathered the best celebs tweets that celebrated this one-of-a-kind artist.

Read more about Ralph McQuarrie and his work on Ralph McQuarrie.com.

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Star Wars Prequels Producer Rick McCallum writes:

Ralph was the very first person I went to when we started prep on The Phantom Menace. When Ralph came to visit at the Ranch, he told me he just didn’t feel strong enough to take charge of the picture, but I felt sure I could convince him to change his mind. George and I were willing to work in any way that would make it possible for him to be part of the creation of the new trilogy. We had a great few days going over everything and finally when he told me he simply couldn’t take on the challenge because of his health, we took him into our conference room.

I showed him artwork from young artists from schools and visual effects companies throughout the world. We must have had at least 35 seriously talented artists work positioned throughout this big room. He walked around in total silence for nearly three hours, meticulously looking at everyone’s work and then he gathered Eric Tiemens, Ryan Church and Doug Chaing’s work and put them all together — then he sat down and looked at their work for what seemed like another hour and then suddenly he pointed at Doug Chaing’s samples and he exclaimed with urgency and a huge smile, “Yes, he’s the one!” And that’s how we hired Doug to become the Concept Designer on Episode I. And on Episode II and III, Ryan and Eric became the concept designers!

Ralph was a constant source of inspiration. We always had his art work hanging all over the art departments in the hallways and offices in London, Sydney and at Skywalker Ranch. There was never a single moment that I can remember not seeing someone looking, staring, or studying the beautiful and stirring images that Ralph created.

He was kind and decent — a consummate gentleman with a unique and beautiful perspective on our own world and those beyond. He will be sorely missed from our hearts but never ever forgotten.

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Happy Birthday to Ralph McQuarrie!

StarWars.com Team | June 13, 2009

Today marks the 80th birthday of an artist who made filmmaker George Lucas’ vision of an action-packed galaxy full of Jedi, Sith, stormtroopers and droids a reality through his breathtaking pre-production artwork.

The execs at 20th Century Fox were so impressed with McQuarrie’s concept art that they gave Lucas the funding he needed to make Star Wars and change cinema and our vision of space forever.

Artist Ralph McQuarrie tells Star Wars Insider:

Star Wars included the sort of stylized design I was interested in when I was at Art Center College of Design, which I never had a chance to work on commercially prior to Star Wars. It sort of wound up being mine because I was given the privilege of designing the sets, the costumes and everything else in the paintings I did for George’s presentation to Fox.”

He continues, “George and I didn’t think the stuff that I did would necessarily be in the film, but he wanted me to show him what I thought would be an ideal solution for each scene. And it turned out he took those paintings along when he went to England to talk to the crew who designed the sets and costumes. And there they were, these paintings I’d done, up on the wall. I think they presented a pretty concise image of what the film could look like, so George could say, ‘This is what I want.’ They used quite a lot of what I had done in their designs.”

In addition to the Star Wars trilogy (as well as the Star Wars Holiday Special), McQuarrie also contributed greatly to Star Trek, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Battlestar Galactica, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, among other noted films.

Happy Birthday, Ralph! Thanks for making us all take out our sketchpads and attempt to draw worlds as beautiful as yours.

Read more McQuarrie’s work on Star Wars here:
Ralph McQuarrie on Designing Star Wars

To learn more about the life and work of Ralph McQuarrie, visit Ralphmcquarrie.com.

McQuarrie Honored by Digital Artists

Pete Vilmur | May 29, 2009

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According to the CG Society’s official website, legendary Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie has been awarded the distinction of “EXPOSÉ 7 Grand Master” by the group.

“The CGSociety is the most respected and accessible global organization for creative digital artists,” reads the group’s site. “The CGS supports artists at every level by offering a range of services to connect, inform, educate and promote, by celebrating achievement, excellence and innovation in all aspects of digital art.”

Fitting, then, that such an esteemed group of artists would honor McQuarrie’s work and career with such a prestigious award. Most Star Wars fans would agree that it is certainly well-deserved!

Head on over to the CG Society’s website for the award announcement, interview, and a great look back at McQuarrie’s spectacular career.

McQuarrie Becomes 501st Member

StarWars.com Team | February 25, 2008

Vader and Ralph McQuarrie

Today, legendary Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie was presented honorary membership in the 501st Legion in a small ceremony conducted in front of the Yoda fountain at Lucasfilm’s Presidio complex.

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