March 5, 2012 at 7:29 AM ET
Ralph McQuarrie, whose conceptual designs were behind the "Star Wars" characters Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO, has died at the age of 82.
Director George Lucas credited McQuarrie for bringing his vision for "Star Wars" to the big screen.
Lucas called him a visionary artist and a humble man.
"Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision 'Star Wars,'" Lucas said in a statement.
"His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy.
"When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this.'"
McQuarrie also helped to create concept designs for the original "Battlestar Galactica" TV show, along with the movies "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
McQuarrie's conceptual work on the 1985 film "Cocoon" won him the Academy Award for visual effects.
A statement on McQuarrie's official website, posted after his death Saturday, said his influence on design will be felt forever.
"There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say ... that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted," it read.