Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie

Illustrator and designer
Date of Birth: 13.06.1929
Country: USA

Biography of Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph Angus McQuarrie was born in 1929 in Gary, Indiana. He grew up on a farm near Billings, Montana. During the Korean War, Ralph served in the army and sustained a head injury in one of the battles. After the war, he moved to California. Ralph had a passion for drawing from an early age, so he decided to pursue his artistic education at the Art Center School in Los Angeles.

Ralph McQuarrie

While studying, Ralph worked in unexpected places. He spent some time at a dental firm and later became a technical illustrator for Boeing. Remarkably, he was the youngest designer in the company. Alongside his job, Ralph created movie posters and animations for the CBS news program about the Apollo space program.

In 1975, Ralph caught the attention of the legendary George Lucas, who was impressed by his work. Lucas offered him a collaboration opportunity for the development of characters in the movie "Star Wars." At the age of 45, Ralph became one of the oldest members of the team working on the famous trilogy. He created the initial sketches for the new world where "Star Wars" takes place. His vibrant and convincing watercolor and acrylic paintings led to an increased budget for the film. Lucas later said, "His drawings and sketches were genius. They inspired and pushed our entire production team."

In the same year, Ralph designed iconic characters such as C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. He also created the designs for the sets, planets, and spaceships, working at an incredibly fast pace and producing a new painting every two days. Ralph believed that the images he created were always present in his subconscious, waiting for the right moment to materialize. One of his most brilliant creations was the landscapes of the desert planet Tatooine, devoid of vegetation and filled with heat and dust.

"Star Wars" became Ralph's first but not his only project in the film industry. He later contributed to movies like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "*batteries not included," and "Jurassic Park." He received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on "Cocoon." In total, Ralph worked on 13 films, even making a cameo appearance as an actor.

Ralph McQuarrie was later hailed as a legend of the science fiction genre, revolutionizing the world of conceptual art. Sadly, he suffered from Parkinson's disease towards the end of his life. He passed away at the age of 82 on March 3, 2012, in his Berkeley, California home. He was survived by his wife, Joan. Those who knew Ralph described him as incredibly humble, yet cheerful and charming, not seeking attention but always considerate towards others.

"We will miss you greatly, Ralph. You will forever remain the brightest star in our galaxy," wrote his friends on Ralph McQuarrie's official website.