Ralph McQuarrie, the man that helped design George Lucas' original three Star Wars movies, passed away yesterday at the age of 82, according to CNN. McQuarrie is credited with designing popular characters like C-3P0, R2-D2, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and countless others from Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
In a statement released on Starwars.Com, Lucas wrote of McQuarrie, "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.'"
When Lucas had a difficult time selling his vision of Star Wars to movie studios, he used McQuarrie's concept art to convince executives to take a chance on the film. From classic characters, to spaceship and planet designs, McQuarrie's influence is seen in almost every frame of the original trilogy, and even inspired the next generation of artists that worked on the prequels as well.
Aside from working on Star Wars, McQuarrie also did concept design work on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Battlestar Galactica, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And his design work on the 1985 film Cocoon won him an Academy Award for Visual Effects.
Be sure to check out the slideshow above to see some of McQuarrie's most famous pieces of Star Wars concept art.
[via Star Wars, CNN]