Tatooine Bar - Collage
Concept Imperial Walker Scene
Concept Darth Vader
In addition to Star Wars, McQuarrie was also the designer of key parts of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. and many more futuristic movies. So the odds are that his creations will influence the teenage dreams of generations to come.
Here you can see an iconic moment from the second Star Wars film, with the Empire's version of a heavy tank or perhaps land-based destroyer: The four-footed, blaster-firing, troop-ferrying AT-AT. Like a giant Boston Dynamics Alpha Dog.
Initially thought up by Industrial Light and Magic employees as a more traditional spacecraft for the movie's heroes, here's a McQuarrie image showing the famous close-quarters battle between X-Wings and the Empire's evil, more alien-looking Tie Fighter craft in the trench of the Death Star--the concluding drama of the first movie.
The red, dusty emptiness of this planet plays a key but overlooked plot element in the movies: Life there is so hard and boring that Skywalker dreams of leaving. This feeling seeps out of McQuarrie's image.
What would you do if asked to imagine the creatures that may live beneath the surface of a swamp on an alien planet? Here's Ralph's take on it in what may be concept art from Yoda's planet Dagobah.
And thus the sound effects for a billion kid battles with plastic lightsabers were created.
Paying tribute after his death, Lucas remarked that when he had difficulty explaining a concept in the films to his crew he'd often just point at a McQuarrie image and say "Do it like this."
That's proof positive of just how powerfully this man could imagine the future in his art.