Star Wars fans can see concept artist Ralph McQuarrie's stunning work for the original trilogy all in one place. The two-volume, nearly 20-pound tome "Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie," published in late 2016, showcases every sketch, illustration and painting. CNET's Anne Dujmovic talked to the book's co-authors Brandon Alinger, Wade Lageose and David Mandel for the 40th anniversary of "Star Wars."
Yes, that's a Stormtrooper wielding a lightsaber. This production illustration, "Imperial troopers in Death Star corridor," is from March 1975. George Lucas' second draft of his screenplay described the troopers as holding "laser swords."
The book contains more than 2,000 pieces of art, most arranged chronologically. About half were newly scanned or photographed for the project. Other pieces had never been published before. Alongside many of the works are quotes from Ralph McQuarrie (who died in 2012), as well as Lucas, others who worked on the film, and famous fans like J.J. Abrams.
On the cover is a production illustration from early 1975, "Artoo and Threepio leave the pod in the desert." C-3PO was modeled after the robot in the movie "Metropolis," except Lucas told McQuarrie "let's make him a boy." The filmmaker described R2-D2 as "a kind of repair guy," McQuarrie said.
"I think I did the sketches for Darth Vader in about a day and half total," Ralph McQuarrie said. "I was moving very fast and didn't have all week to fool around with Darth Vader -- I had a lot of other things to work on."
"Laser duel," from February 1975, depicts Deak Starkiller -- not Luke Skywalker -- battling Darth Vader, as described in the second draft. "George said it was a 'laser sword,'" Ralph McQuarrie said. "I gave it about the length of a medieval broadsword. I tried to make the laser beam as bright as possible, and I changed the colors for the various swords -- a color for the good guys and a color for the bad guys."
Wait, Luke was a girl? For a time, Lucas considered making Luke female. This poster illustration, created in April 1975 between Lucas' second and third drafts, shows Han, Luke (as female), Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2. The art was never used for a poster.
"George sort of liked this Chewbacca, but he thought it could be a little weirder, so he decided to take off the flak jacket. He took off all the clothes," artist Ralph McQuarrie said.
Here's Ralph McQuarrie working on the same matte painting for "Empire."
"In an illustration -- you try to separate everything so that it 'reads' and makes sense," McQuarrie said. "Reality is more sloppy. Things blend together where they wouldn't in an illustration. Everything isn't so clear in the world."
In this preliminary illustration of bounty hunters (1980), Ralph McQuarrie wanted to test two types of varnish. The final illustration was used on a decal for members of the Official Star Wars Fan Club. It also appeared on other merchandise.
Originally this illustration was meant to be the cover of a children's book, but it was decided that it was "too scary." It was repurposed as a poster for "The Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama" around early 1983. Before that it was the cover art for "The Jedi Master's Quizbook."
By the time "Return of the Jedi" was in pre-production, artist Ralph McQuarrie was burned out. He quit, though he did create more than a dozen paintings for the film. He returned later to do a few portfolio paintings. This is version No. 2 of a portfolio illustration, "The Emperor's powers."
Ralph McQuarrie (second from left) also worked on other films, including "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," as well as the original "Battlestar Galactica" TV series. He was part of the ILM team that won an Oscar for visual effects for "Cocoon" in 1986.