The StarWars portfolio by Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie would never have guessed he would one day be doing space-fantasy artwork. Nonetheless, it was in his blood at a very early age. "It was part of my life ever since I was a little kid," he remarks. "I can remember drawings I did then of logging trucks with extra wheels and greater proportions, and fantastic versions of scientific equipment. So when George [Lucas] asked me to do these things, I felt ir was what I was meant to do all along. It is the most fun and comes easy to me."

McQuarrie, born June 13, 1929, in Gary, Indiana, was influenced by his grandfather, who did watercolors, and his mother, who drew and painted. It wasn't long before he settled on a career in art. He took an art major in high school, studied technical illustration, and then whent to work for the Boeing Company. There he met people who had studied at and recommended the Art Center School in Los Angeles. After two years in Korea, he enrolled at Art Center as an illustration student.

The ease with which McQuarrie understood the highly technical visuals required for STAR WARS is partially explained by his earlier work for CBS News Apollo coverage as well as for Boeing, Litton Industries, and Kaiser Graphics. His work for CBS, doing artist's rendering of the capsule's travel through space - makeing visible what could not otherwise be seen - generated quite an interest in McQuarrie's work. He was soon approached about doing animation background paintings and movie-poster art.

Some production paintings McQuarrie had done for Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins brought him to the attention of director George Lucas in late 1975. Very soon after, they began discussing production paintings for STAR WARS. Lucas suggested that McQuarrie approach the work from the point of view of "ideal" portrayals rather that feel restricted by what could actually be achieved in filming the situations represented in the art.

The first four of five paintings had been done when STAR WARS was still in the development stage trhough Twentieth Century-Fox. George Lucas felt that McQuarrie's paintings would not only be of interest to Twentieth, but, by helping them to visualize his ideas, would also dissolve any hesitation on their part to go ahead with making the film.

The production paintings were of incalculable value when it came to discussing STAR WARS' production design and costuming. They reflect various changes in visual concepts as well as the evolving story line. The ideas of not only George Lucas and Ralph McQuarrie are concretized here, but also those of production deisgner John Barry and model deisgner Joe Johnston and Colin Cantwell.

McQuarrie's paintings were done in a combination of opaque gouache and acrylic on illustration board mount on hardboard.


(Last updated at: 980414)