Artist Overview: Ralph McQuarrie (Part 2)

This is the second part of my ”journey” through the magnificent book, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, Volume I-II. This post is about the second half of the first book Volume I and it consist of McQuarrie’s illustrations done for The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

There’s couple of things I’d like to point out I found interesting. It seems Boba Fett looking character was to be an Imperial commander, who would have had a significant role in the battle of Hoth. McQuarrie’s designs draws heavily from the ancient samurai/shogun style helmet designs and costumes as well. There’s no clear explanation in the book why this character was cut from the final film.

Second interesting thing that was cut out from the final film was the Darth Vader’s castle. It looks like one of the medieval castles found in Transylvania, Romania. It has real traditional castle feel to it and I think it was better to cut out from the final film. It explains too heavy-handedly the origins of the character and makes him appear too much Nosferatu/Count Dracula character. Concept sketches of Vader’s castle offers really fascinating view on the character development and what Lucas had originally visioned Darth Vader to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist Overview: Ralph McQuarrie

”Ralph McQuarrie is the most iconic artist in the history of Star Wars. He worked hand-in-hand with George Lucas to help establish the saga’s visual aesthetic, it’s inimitable look and feel.”

Above text is from the dustjacket of Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, a massive two volume book set, which illustrates Ralph McQuarrie’s design work on the original Star Wars trilogy. Before Star Wars assignment,  McQuarrie worked as an illustrator in the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.  McQuarrie’s first proper film industry assignment was  to illustrate a film poster for Charles B. Pierce’s The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972). While moving from Seattle to Los Angeles McQuarrie established new contacts to people working in the film industry. Director Hal Barwood contacted McQuarrie late in 1971 about illustrating concepts for a new film he was developing.

McQuarrie: ”They wanted to make some illustrations to help it get into a production as a feature film. I completed four illustrations, and they had a lot of people interested. But Star Dancing never got into production.”

Hal Barwood: ”George Lucas saw a Star Dancing painting  of this gigantic RV rolling across a grassland with a guy in a space suit and a couple of moons hanging in the background and he just thought it was great.”

McQuarrie: ”George saw the paintings, and he came by my house one evening. He talked about his idea for a galactic war picture – intergalactic war. He said it would involve all the aspects of Flash Gordon, but done in a sort of 2001 manner with real high-fidelity effects.”

VOLUME 1

In this post, I will focus only on the first book, Volume 1. I will do another blog post about Volume 2 as well. The first volume covers McQuarrie’s design work for A New Hope (1977) and half the work done for The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

In Star Wars: A New Hope’s pre-production, McQuarrie’s design work was perhaps the most extensive of all three films in the original trilogy. McQuarrie lend his technical eye to the spaceship designs as well and defined the modelmakers’ designs. Even though McQuarrie was primarily a technical/mechanical illustrator with background in aviation industry, he was able to design memorable characters as well: C-3PO, R2-D2, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, Imperial stormtroopers, Tusken raiders etc. The most iconic of all McQuarrie’s character design for Star Wars is Darth Vader. In McQuarrie’s early drawings Vader’s design draws heavily from old samurai/shogun war helmets creating a robotic, reptilian looking character.

Ralph McQuarrie did also some matte paintings to the original trilogy. In A New Hope he did the Death Star, Luke’s home planet Tatooine, Rebel base planet Yavin matte paintings. McQuarrie approached these matte paintings realistically, in 2001: Space Odyssey way, said Hal Barwood. The book tells the path that McQuarrie took when designing various object into the Star Wars galaxy. It’s easy to follow the steps that he followed and how he ended up with a particular design and look. There’s also very informative text snippets that provide fascinating background into the design process. Sometimes these text snippets are quotations from McQuarrie commenting on George Lucas’ wishes and his preferred design orientation.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist Overview: Reynold Brown

10.18.13-brownmug-300x283

Reynold Brown is truly one of the greatest unknown film poster artist and illustrators of his time. Brown created some of the most well known film poster of 1950s and 1960s; Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), This Island Earth (1955), Attack of the 50ft Woman (1958), Black Sabbath (1963) to name a few.

curse_of_undead_poster_02

William Reynold Brown was born in Los Angeles, Califonia on  October 18th 1917. Before he began his career illustrating film posters, he drew Tailspin Tommy comic strip with cartoonist Hal Forrest. At one point of his early career Brown met illustrator/artist Norman Rockwell who advised Brown to leave cartooning if he wanted to be an illustrator. Before his career in film industry, Brown was serving as an technical illustrator at North American Aviation.

tumblr_nmygy4bEEA1snfynjo7_1280

Reynold Brown worked in Hollywood in the 1950s throughout 1960s. At some point in the 1960s, probably lattter half of the decade, Brown decided to withdraw from film poster and commercial illustration altogether. Back in the day commercial illustrators or film poster artists remained largely anonymous. Often times they couldn’t sign their illustrations or take/make visible credit for what they had done. Film posters were only created for marketing the picture not to promote the artist who made it. Also film posters were printed on cheap paper and colours appear in printed form more brighter than in the original painting (see comparison below).

collage
Left: Reynold Brown’s original painting for the film ”The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). Right: Printed film poster with ”tuned” colors.

0b15f8a85dabc1d2299e106b27b01b30

the_four_horsemen_of_the_apocalypse-301948889-large

After working two decades in film business, Brown became disillusioned with commercial illustration and moved to Chadron, Nebraska leaving the bright lights of Hollywood behind. While in Nebraska, Brown painted landscapes and themes of Old wild west. Reynold Brown died on 24th of August 1991. He was 73 years old.

 

Interesting note:

Reynold Brown worked also as an art teacher at college where young Drew Struzan was studying. (page 82, The Art of Drew Struzan by Drew Struzan & David J. Schow)

Links:

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynold_Brown

YouTube: The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters (1994) (Parts 1-4)

http://monsterbrains.blogspot.fi/2011/08/amazing-poster-art-of-reynold-brown.html