Artist Who Shaped Star Wars' Universe Dead at 82
Ralph McQuarrie helped design many top sci-fi films of 1980s
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2012 8:18 AM CST
Original artwork titled 'Bounty Hunters in Cloud City' by Ralph McQuarrie is displayed April 4, 2002 at the exhibit 'Star Wars: The Magic of the Myth' at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in Brooklyn, New York.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who was instrumental in shaping the Star Wars universe—down to the look of characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and R2-D2—has died at the age of 82, reports CBS News. In addition to working at Boeing and creating Apollo space flight animations for CBS News, McQuarrie designed the concept art that George Lucas used to sell Star Wars to 20th Century Fox. "I wanted to make these paintings as close to what would be on the screen as possible," McQuarrie once told Cinefantastique. "That was a product of, or a result of our wish to make the people at Fox feel that we had a picture that was going to have a quality image, one that wasn't going to be trashy science fiction. ... It was going to be a real polished product."

Because of his success with Star Wars, McQuarrie would go on to produce art for many of the biggest movies of the 1980s, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Back to the Future, and Cocoon. "I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man," George Lucas wrote in a statement. "When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this.'" You can check out more of Ralph McQuarrie's art at his personal website.