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Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie dies

By Kamal Wallace, CNN
updated 4:51 AM EST, Sun March 4, 2012
One of Ralph McQuarrie's original artwork was titled 'Bounty Hunters in Cloud City.'
One of Ralph McQuarrie's original artwork was titled 'Bounty Hunters in Cloud City.'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ralph McQuarrie's conceptual designs helped bring "Star Wars" to the big screen
  • Filmmaker George Lucas called McQuarrie a "visionary artist"
  • He won the Academy Award for work on the 1985 film "Cocoon"

(CNN) -- Ralph McQuarrie, the man credited with bringing director George Lucas' vision for "Star Wars" to the big screen, has died at the age of 82.

McQuarrie's conceptual designs were the basis for some of the trilogy's iconic characters such as Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO.

A statement on McQuarrie's official website, posted after his death Saturday, said 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," it read.

Lucas said he was saddened by McQuarrie's passing, calling him a visionary artist and a humble man.

"Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars," Lucas said. "His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled 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 helped to create concept designs for the original Battlestar Galactica TV show, along with the movies "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

McQuarrie's conceptual work on the 1985 film, "Cocoon," won him the Academy Award for Visual Effects.

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