The importance of concept art within the history of Star Wars cannot be overstated. Beginning with Ralph McQuarrie’s groundbreaking creations for the original trilogy, the concept art phase has defined the look of the galaxy far, far away for each film in the saga. Through these images, we see radical ideas explored, imaginations realized — and the art itself is often masterful. Phil Szostak, Lucasfilm’s creative art manager, has chronicled the concept art of the modern sequel trilogy, complete with insights from the artists themselves, in a brilliant series of books that concludes this month with The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In advance of the hardcover’s March 31 release, StarWars.com asked Szostak about some of his favorite works included — check them out below, along with commentary from the writer himself.
“In a scene not realized for the final film, a cloak, described by chief costume concept artist Glyn Dillon as a ‘flowing dark entity,’ envelops Rey. Dillon’s bold use of color and Rey’s steely-eyed expression give this piece an appropriately unsettling vibe. Additionally, the cloak’s rippled texture evokes the nightmarish biomechanical art of Alien designer H.R. Giger.” (Page 63, “DARK REY BLADE VERSION 1A”)
“In designing the Aki-Aki people of Pasaana, creature concept designer Jake Lunt Davies explored how their culture could inform their depiction. Here, crowds of joyous celebrants hoist representations of flowing water, emanating from a massive effigy of an Aki-Aki god. Lunt Davies’ use of warm and cool tones and curving shapes lead the eye around the page, giving a feeling of energy and flow well suited to this early representation of the Festival of the Ancestors.” (Page 104-105 spread, “FESTIVAL 01”)
“The emotion that an illustration evokes is a key factor in deciding which pieces end up in an Art of Star Wars book. For me, design supervisor James Clyne’s depiction of the final flight of General Leia Organa’s Tantive IV is not only as a rousing moment for her Resistance, but a celebration of the life of the late, great actor Carrie Fisher. Although no longer with us, Fisher’s spirit lives on in the hearts of Star Wars fans, just as Leia’s spirit does in the hearts of her friends.” (Page 142, top piece, “BLOCKADE LIFTOFF VERSION 01”)
“The bond between Rey and Finn is one of the first and strongest connections forged in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Concept artist Adam Brockbank’s painting of a simple act of kindness between old friends, a quiet moment in the vexis tunnels underneath the desert sands of Pasaana, reminds me of a children’s storybook illustration. I also love C-3PO silently watching, eyes aglow, on the left side of the piece.” (Page 196, bottom piece, “SINKHOLE SKETCHES VERSION 03”)
“As he did a year prior inside Starkiller Base’s oscillator, Ben Solo stands on a precipice atop the broken remnants of the second Death Star, moments before his slain father, Han Solo, appears. The composition of design supervisor James Clyne’s piece emphasizes Ben’s isolation in this moment, standing at a crossroads between the dark and light following the death of his mother, Leia Organa, and his own brush with death. The looseness of Clyne’s sketch accentuates the emotion of the scene in a way that a more photorealistic illustration would not.” (Page 240, bottom piece, “DEATH STAR ROOFTOP VERSION 02”)
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives March 31 and is available for pre-order.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, and via Movies Anywhere, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31.
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Phil Szostak, and Lucasfilm Ltd. © Abrams Books, 2020
(C) 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. And TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization
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