- "Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator."
- ―George Lucas
Ralph McQuarrie was a conceptual designer and futurist responsible for many of the designs and aesthetics featured in the original trilogy. He also provided concept illustrations for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and the illustration of the Ark of the Covenant seen in a Bible near the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. He often went by the initials "RMQ," which he used as his signature. McQuarrie was tuckerized via a cameo in The Empire Strikes Back as General Pharl McQuarrie.
Most of his concept art is featured in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe and The Art of Ralph McQuarrie. It was also featured in the 2014 title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, authored by Tony DiTerlizzi. In the 30th Anniversary toy series, McQuarrie's concept art is turned into actual action figures. Such figures include a concept Chewbacca, a concept Han Solo, a concept Darth Vader, a concept Starkiller hero (the precursor to Luke Skywalker), two separate releases of the concept stormtrooper and a concept snowtrooper.
Star Wars work
- "There was an afternoon where we were all gathered, months after Ralph [McQuarrie] actually stopped coming, and George [Lucas] made a point of thanking Ralph in front of everyone. Ralph stood up and said, 'I was one of the first people that George hired,' because Ralph is an unbelievably humble man. George got up and said, 'No, you were the first one.' "
- ―Nilo Rodis-Jamero on McQuarrie's retirement from the production of Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, a collection of McQuarrie's Star Wars artworks, was released on September 27, 2016. The set had a foreword by George Lucas and featured over 2,000 illustrations rescanned and rephotographed from conceptual paintings, costume designs, storyboards, book covers, and Lucasfilm holiday cards.
Influence on Star Wars Rebels
McQuarrie's work has influenced the TV series Star Wars Rebels in multiple ways.
- The animation style of Rebels is very similar to that of McQuarrie's concept art.
- The design of Lothal was based on some of McQuarrie's concept art.
- The design of Zeb and his species, the Lasat, were based on early Chewbacca art done by McQuarrie.
- A man based on an early McQuarrie design of "General Skywalker" can be seen seated behind Sabine Wren in the episode "Droids in Distress."
- The design of Azmorigan was based on early Jabba the Hutt art done by McQuarrie.
- The character Quarrie, introduced in the episode "Wings of the Master," is named after McQuarrie.
- The Moyn are based on a rough sketch for an alien bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back.
- The stylized version of Darth Vader is a reference to McQuarrie's one, also used on the cover of the first edition of the novelization of A New Hope.
- The E-XD infiltrator droids' standard forms resemble C-3PO's original concept art.