RALPH McQuarrie, the artist who helped George Lucas bring Stars Wars to the big screen, has died aged 82.
In 1975, he was hired by Lucas to design some of the characters and scenes for his "space opera" Star Wars. As well as designing some of the sets including the desert planet Tatooine, McQuarrie also did the conceptual drawings for many characters. His rewards included an uncredited role in the sequel The Empire Strikes Back, as General Pharl McQuarrie, and his own action figure. In a statement, Lucas said: "His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled 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'."
McQuarrie also designed the alien spaceships in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.
In 1985, he was presented with an Academy Award for Visual Effects for the film Cocoon - about the residents of an old people's home given a new lease of life by visiting aliens. –BBC
The statement on his website praised "an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. "His influence on design will be felt forever. There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say... 'that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted'." BBC