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Ralph McQuarrie

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Ralph Angus McQuarrie (13 June 19293 March 2012; age 82) was a conceptual artist and illustrator who has worked on two Star Trek productions, the 1977 abandoned Star Trek: Planet of the Titans project and the 1986 feature film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

McQuarrie is best known to the public for his production designs for the Star Wars films. His imagination helped guide the final appearance of Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers, as well as Chewbacca and Boba Fett. He also created many of the matte paintings of planets and satellites that appeared in the film and illustrated many vehicles seen in the film.

Whale tank, concept art

The whale tank concept art

Following the immense success of Star Wars, McQuarrie was brought in as concept and matte artist and design consultant on the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In addition to these films, he created conceptual artwork and illustrations for at least four iconic films directed by Steven Spielberg, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park. He also created designs for the original Battlestar Galactica television series.

After Star Wars wrapped in 1977, McQuarrie was invited to England to work under Ken Adam to help develop designs for a director Philip Kaufman's planned Star Trek film Planet of the Titans, but it was canceled at the script stage. This was, as far as Star Trek was concerned, followed in 1985 when he, through ILM, worked on conceptual drawings and designs for 23rd century San Francisco, Starfleet Headquarters, shuttlecrafts, whale tanks, and storyboard concepts for the surreal time travel sequence for The Voyage Home. ("The Art of Ralph McQuarrie", pp. 124-129, 148-151) McQuarrie won an Academy Award for his work on the Ron Howard film Cocoon (featuring Ron's brother, Clint Howard, Herta Ware, music by James Horner and cinematography by Don Peterman). He received his Academy Award from Star Trek: The Motion Picture director Robert Wise.

Often described as a gentle and patient man, he has been a very influential mentor to future Star Trek production staffers such as Andrew Probert and Michael Pangrazio.

McQuarrie died on 3 March 2012. He was 82. [1]


Further reading

  • "Man of Light & Vision: Ralph McQuarrie", David Houston, Starlog, issue 17, October 1978, pp. 36-41, 70 [2]

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