“Star Wars – The Ralph McQuarrie Series” by John Williams

Looking through this site’s past few months, I felt like like there’ve been enough Star Wars posts already. But my Skandinavian pal tintacle proved me wrong by making one of the most remarkable custom covers series I’ve seen in recent times. His collection is a striking demonstration of how Ralph McQuarrie was not simply a production illustrator on Star Wars. He was more of a translator of George Lucas’ phantasies, bringing a whole galaxy far, far away to life. When looking at one of his drawings, it is as if you’re looking at a history book. They’re full of depth and lore and an integral part in making Star Wars a history of our own.


This set started when I was browsing through HQCovers to see all the amazing artwork found on there. I was in fact looking for a cover for Inside Out I knew heidl had done (this one), so I clicked “Browse by Composer” and chose Michael Giacchino. After the delightful section on Inside Out, I went back for more art for Giacchino. I had a look at Star Trek and one cover really caught my eye, the way it captured everything about Star Trek in one single image blew me away and I thought to myself “this design would make a great Star Wars cover…”

I immediately fired up Google and went wild searching for artwork to use, then I was thinking why not use the concept art by the late, great Ralph McQuarrie? Once I started searching for that I was overwhelmed, the amount of absolutely astonishing things Ralph painted for Star Wars is amazing. It is funny how when you look at most of the concepts, that’s how it actually ended up in the movies. One of my favorite things about McQuarrie’s work is that he was always trying to tell a story though his paintings.

Choosing the ones to use for the design I had in mind was difficult to say the least, I wanted to capture the adventures and the awe of Star Wars. I also wanted something to ‘pop-out’ of the logo, therefore I spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas, size aspects and what was supposed to be in the foreground and background. Numerous of brilliant pieces went through the process, often I would find an image thinking it would be perfect, but once I inserted it into my template in Photoshop I unfortunately had to realize it just wouldn’t work with the design. On many occasions certain objects or characters in the piece would conflict the letters of the logo, for the design to work I had to move them slightly and fill in the empty space myself (this was before I discovered the ‘content aware’ fill tool). All the ‘pop-out’ elements were done by hand, to achieve the effect I wanted I had to select the object or character using the ‘Polygonal Lasso’ tool.

In total I have made 18 covers for the original trilogy, but to keep it on a moderate level heidl asked me to choose my personal favorite for each movie. And even though I pretty much like all of them equally, well that’s not exactly true, it was easy for me to pick my favorites out of the bunch.

#1: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Custom)
#1: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (Custom)

The first one is for the original Star Wars (on this occasion, the Episode IV subtitle doesn’t fit the series) and it depicts Luke having pulled up next to a cliff edge with his speeder, and is looking through his binoculars at Mos Eisley spaceport with C-3PO and R2-D2 at his side waiting for what is to come next…

I’ve chosen this piece of artwork for the first movie as it represents the beginning of the saga and Luke Skywalker’s amazing adventure.

#2: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (Custom)
#2: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Custom)

The second one is for the sequel The Empire Strikes Back and depicts a scene where Luke has been shot down in his Snowspeeder during the Battle of Hoth, he escapes the crash injured yet alive as we see an Imperial Walker approaching…

I’ve chosen this piece because I think it captures the story of the movie; the hero has been defeated, yet he escapes and will return another day the fight back, indicating there is still hope.

#3: Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (Custom)
#3: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (Custom)

The third one is for the final chapter in the trilogy, Return of the Jedi and it depicts Luke battling the Rancor in the pit of the palace of Jabba the Hutt. Will our hero survive the encounter with this beast…?

I’ve chosen this piece as I think it represents the undertone of the movie; it shows that Luke has grown stronger and is prepared to face bigger dangers, and from this point on we know he’s going to succeed.

Also, I need to mention these covers wouldn’t have turned out as good and it would have taken me a lot longer to make them if I hadn’t received the logos for Empire and Jedi made by heidl and rotane.

Thank you.


You’re very welcome! Thanks for sharing these beauties with us. And also for providing the bunch of alternative designs below.


  1. Icarus

    I’d seen this amazing set on FFShrine’s forums and I have to say I fell in love with it at first sight.
    I’m particularly fond of custom covers set (rather than individuals, when it’s about a saga) and I’m also a great fan of McQuarrie’s artworks.
    Great work! :)


  2. '...'

    Hello! I’m such a big fan of this set (use it for my iTunes cover art) that I decided, for consistency’s sake, to make covers for the soundtracks of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi in this style. Obviously it couldn’t have been McQuarrie artwork, so I went with piece of concept art for the movies I personally saw fit.
    If curious, they can be viewed here: https://i.imgur.com/IearIsi.png (and) https://i.imgur.com/gYAXQol.png
    Really enjoy the covers you make!


    1. Woah, that’s fantastic!
      I assume it wasn’t easy to find appropriate concept art that works with this particular concept, especially for The Last Jedi. You did good :) Your final covers are a little rough around the edges, but nontheless, good work!


  3. danieltrchampion

    These are stunning! Would be great to see versions of the prequels done this way too!


  4. […] and the last one was made by my fellow artist tintacle, who already graced my blog with his amazing Ralph McQuarrie Series for the Star Wars original trilogy. For the sake of simplicity, I decided to leave the versions […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s