Who is the artist behind the original Star Wars' concept art? "Used Future" aesthetic, what's that? What easy Star Wars painting ideas can we create for different art mediums?
It is generally agreed that the month of May is Star Wars Month, and its fourth day the Star Wars Day. It's that time of the year when fans greet each other "May the 4th be with you" which is a pun on the film's popular line "May the Force be with you." In addition, it's the month of the year when artistic fans create Star Wars art projects and meet up at conventions or private gatherings dedicated to paying tribute to the most influential sci-fi franchise in the history of motion picture.
So to pay our own little tribute, in this article we'll take a look at the original Star Wars concept art and the artist behind it. We will also explore easy Star Wars painting ideas that we can create this month.
Star Wars: What's it about?
Unless you're hiding under a pile of canvasses these past years, then you likely already know or heard of the Star Wars saga. For those who are wondering, Star Wars is a very successful film opera series. It was created in the '70s by the American film director, producer, screenwriter, and entrepreneur, George Walton Lucas. Now, let me attempt to explain what it's all about in three main points.
#1 Star Wars is a War Saga
As implied by its title, we can also call Star Wars a war saga. It tells the story of massive space battles between the oppressive Galactic Empire and the resistance movement - a multi-planetary Rebel Alliance aiming to overthrow the empire's rule to restore the Republic. Quite an epic plot don't you think?
#2 The main characters are either on the dark side or the light side of the Force
The Force is a mysterious but present everywhere, metaphysical energy field created by life that holds the galaxy together. In fantasy literature terms, we call this the magical system of the story. Harnessing the Force grants those who are sensitive to its power, extraordinary abilities. The Jedis (Luke Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda) on the light side seek to become one with the Force while the Siths (Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, and Darth Maul) on the dark side exploit the Force to bend it to their will. With that, you'd guess who the bad guys are.
#3 The Skywalkers dominated the plot for three generations.
The whole nine films revolve around three generations of Skywalkers, who ended up either on the dark side or the light side of the Force. It started with Anakin Skywalker - who later turns dark to become the notorious Darth Vader, the father of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa. Finally, the three most recent films in the series feature Princess Leia's son, Ben Solo or Kylo Ren, and a strong mysterious woman, Rey. For the finer plot details, we highly recommend you watch the whole series.
"The Force will be with you. Always."
-Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Master who trained both Anakin and Luke Skywalker
Trivia: Did you know that all the first six Star Wars movies were released in May?
The first three films - Episode IV - A New Hope premiered in the United States on the 25th of May 1977, Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back on the 21st of May 1980 and Episode VI Return of the Jedi was released on the 25th of May 1983.
Furthermore, the newer half of the first six Star Wars films - Episode I - The Phantom Menace was released on the 19th of May 1999, Episode II - Attack of the Clones on 16th of May 2002, and Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on the 19th of May 2005.
Who is behind the original Star Wars concept art?
Hailed as the "most inspirational and marvelous concept art in existence," Star Wars broke ground in its concept art aesthetics and special effects during its time of release in the '70s. When the young George Lucas commissioned illustrator Ralph McQuarrie to bring his fantastical scripts and vision to life, the seasoned artist gave Star Wars a whole new otherworldly and futuristic universe. Ralph McQuarrie was responsible for the concept art and design of the main characters and species, vehicles, battleships as well as iconic locations including Dagobah, the Death Star, and the Cloud City.
"George was not able to show his vision and ideas in the script. So I created the visual image to show George's vision."
-Ralph McQuarrie on George Lucas' Star Wars
Star Wars and the Used Future Aesthetic
The Star Wars concept art created by Ralph McQuarrie instantly became the films' visual bible. Other than the special effects, what's truly groundbreaking is Ralph McQuarrie's "Used Future" aesthetic. At that time, typical science fiction imagery of futuristic worlds was often shiny, metallic, and seemingly new. In contrast, Ralph McQuarrie and George Lucas's imagined futuristic universe pioneered the look of technology that wasn't always sleek and new. The majority of the tech showed visible signs of disrepair and patched-up upgrades, telling more of the history of the machine and its owners. Thus, the old, "lived-in" world they created gave the audience a totally new sci-fi experience.
Easy Star Wars Painting Ideas You Can Create Using Different Mediums
Because we're super inspired by Star Wars Month and the art of Ralph McQuarrie, our team compiled some really cool Star Wars painting ideas, activities, and projects you can create anytime using a variety of mediums. Gather your art supplies and let's get started.
#1 Easy Star Wars Painting Ideas with Crayons
Yes, crayons! Here's a super easy Star Wars painting idea that you can create using crayons and watercolor. I used to do this as a warm-up for when I intend to paint the whole day. Crayons are made of wax which repels water. Use them to draw the outlines and emphasize the details of your painting before giving it a wash of watercolor. This simple painting idea is sure to produce some delightful pieces. Here's a Death Star watercolor resist painting from the artists at Fun-A-Day.
#2 Easy Star Wars Painting Ideas with Watercolor
Recreate portraits of your favorite Star Wars characters using your watercolors and some loose brushwork. Look at these 15 x 46 cm watercolor paintings by artist David Kraig. He painted fifteen Star Wars characters including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi Wan-Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2, and many others.
Thinking of something more structured and challenging to paint with your watercolors? Flex your composition and painting techniques with this really cool Stormtrooper Vitruvian Man by the artists at Magik Art. They sure gave Leonardo Da Vinci's iconic piece a "spin" worthy of your painting time.
#3 Star Wars Painting Ideas Using Spray Paint
Want something different? Time to unearth those old newspapers and tomes from your attic and basement. Try this unique Star Wars painting project that gives off a vintage feel to the film's edgy characters. Here's what the artists at Art Popop created using a leaf from a dictionary, stencils, and spray paint.
#4 Star Wars Painting Ideas Using Oil Paints
If oil is your weapon of choice, then we also found something for you. The oil paints are perfect for creating rich textures and so why not paint a beautiful impressionist Star Wars landscape painting? Probably my favorite among all the Star Wars painting ideas we've mentioned, look at this breathtaking landscape painting by Turkish artist Naci Caba featuring the Star Wars' Star Destroyer ship. Check our Infinity Series oil paint sets for artist-quality paints perfect for this style.
Do you prefer to paint portraits instead? Then you would love this idea we discovered - paint the cute LEGO versions of some of the popular Star Wars characters using vibrant oil paints and painterly brushwork. The most adorable among the Star Wars painting ideas we've mentioned here, look at this 15 x 10 cm oil on canvas panel piece by American artist Raymond Logan.
Featured Painting: Darth Maul Star Wars Acrylic Painting by Laura Nuti
Our featured painting is a 24 x 33 cm acrylic on paper portrait of Darth Maul by Laura Nuti painted using our Black Tulip Collection brushes for water media. Laura is a Tuscany-born self-taught artist and an active member of our growing Painting Inspiration Daily community of artists on Facebook. Laura is a mother of two and on top of that still makes time to paint every day. When she's not painting on paper sheets, fabrics, or walls, she creates amazing digital art that you can find in her Instagram account @drawforpassion. Don't forget to send her some love!
Did this article spark some new Star Wars painting ideas and projects? Share them and your paintings in the comment section below! We'd love to hear your thoughts and see what you come up with!
Start painting, come join us at our Painting Inspiration Daily Facebook group where we do painting challenges and activities with both aspiring and professional artists from across the world. Need more inspiration to finally begin a painting habit? Then you will like our article New Beginnings: Manage Your Stress Levels by Starting a Daily Painting Habit.
May the Force be with you.
- MEET THE AUTHOR-
Fabrianne is the Ambassador of Art Buzz at ZenART, resident eccentric pocket-sized art curator, editor, and art world liaison. She builds and develops relationships with the arts community and makes sure that ZenART's inspirational articles get to you "hot off the press." She co-founded an online contemporary art gallery, worked with over 100 artists on exhibitions and performances, wears only black clothes and when she's not creating buzz or curating and saturating in art, still daydreams of becoming a quirky Wes Anderson film character.
IMDB, Ralph McQuarrie, https://m.imdb.com/name/nm0574319/?ref_=m_nmqu_qu
Star Wars, Ralph Mcquarrie Most Memorable Masterpieces, https://www.starwars.com/news/ralph-mcquarries-most-memorable-masterpieces
Britannica, Star Wars, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Star-Wars-film-series
Star Wars, Guide to the Star Wars Portfolio, https://www.starwars.com/news/an-annotated-guide-to-the-star-wars-portfolio-by-ralph-mcquarrie