Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie dies at 82

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Star Wars art by Ralph McQuarrie (Lucasfilm)Ralph McQuarrie, the man who defined the visual style of the original Star Wars trilogy, designing such elements as Darth Vader’s helmet, Imperial stormtroopers, the Tusken Raider Sand People, droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, the Millennium Falcon and Cloud City, has died. He was 82.

Star Wars creator George Lucas had this to say in a statement on McQuarrie’s passing:

“Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator.” also honored McQuarrie on Saturday with a slideshow of many of his most iconic images.

Steve Sansweet, an avid Star Wars collector who came to know McQuarrie while writing a book on the subject and later became Lucasfilm’s head of fan relations, eulogized the artist on his Facebook page:

“Ralph was not only a superb artist, but a fascinating story teller. He was quiet and self-effacing, but became the perfect partner for Lucas to get his initial Star Wars movies look as striking as they did.”

Other iconic examples of McQuarrie’s work can be found in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the original Battlestar Galactica, several Star Trek movies and his Academy Award-winning work on Cocoon.

See also: Space artist Robert McCall dies in Scottsdale (Feb. 28, 2010)

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