“A couple of brush strokes, a round thing, and a little bit of blue.” This doesn’t sound like the foundation on which one of cinema’s best-loved characters was built, but remember: from little acorns, great oaks grow. Or, in this case, from not-particularly-inspiring sentences, iconic robots grow.
The not-particularly-inspiring sentence in question belongs to Star Wars’ visual effects artist Lorne Peterson, who was describing the primitive Ralph McQuarrie sketch that went on to influence the design of a little droid named R2-D2.
By January 1976, that doodle had morphed into the impressive blueprint you can see in the gallery below, and work was soon underway to create the physical, dustbin-shaped exoskeleton that actor Kenny Baker would then inhabit to portray R2.
This sketch, and more than 250 like it, make up a rather excellent new book called Star Wars: The Blueprints, released on 15 August. Author JW Rinzler has trawled the Lucasfilm archives to dig up scores of previously unseen, ludicrously detailed concept art from the franchise’s early history. Flicking through, you’ll happen upon intricate drawings of rebel spacefighter corridors, as well as the original designs for Jabba’s throne room, the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star, of course.
More than anything, it also serves as an exciting reminder that some similarly outlandish interstellar sketches are probably being waved under JJ Abrams’ nose as you read this…
Star Wars: The Blueprints by JW Rinzler is published by Titan Books, priced £59.99