Contrary to popular belief, the “galaxy far, far away” of Star Wars wasn’t unearthed by historians and documentary filmmakers in the mid to late 70s. It’s actually a work of complete fiction, with pre-production conceptual art and everything. Some of that art, by illustrator Ralph McQuarrie, has hit the internet, and it’s pretty damn cool.
McQuarrie is considered a father to the famous and influential “used future” style seen in Star Wars, which shows futuristic environments that actually seem lived in and subject to the passage of time just like the real world. That style can be seen in the newly surfaced concept art, as well as characters who would go on to become very famous, including C-3PO, Chewbacca, and more. There are also some paintings from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that feature actor likenesses.
To take a look at some of Ralph McQuarrie’s recently released Star Wars trilogy concept art, just click through the gallery up top. In some cases, they look better than the real thing.