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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Conceptual designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie passed away today at the age of 82.

McQuarrie was known for his artwork in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, original “Battlestar Galactica” television series, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and “Cocoon.”

He won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in the 1986 movie “Cocoon” with Ken Ralston, Scott Farrar and David Berry.

George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie in 1975 to illustrate several scenes for “Star Wars.” He designed many of the characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbecca and many concepts for the film’s sets. He later became the conceptual designer for the sequels “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

In addition, he designed the alien ships in Steven Spielberg’s films “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

He did appear in “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” in an uncredited role as General McQuarrie.

Here is the official statement from George Lucas:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man. Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. 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. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.’

“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.”

Check out some of McQuarrie’s artwork below. For more artwork, click here to jump to McQuarrie’s personal web site.

Source: StarWars.com