Original Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie has passed away. Born June 13, 1929, he died on Saturday, March 3, 2012, and leaves behind a legacy of artwork and inspiration.

“A commercial artist and designer whose career included stints at Boeing and Kaiser Graphic Arts and creating animations of Apollo space flights for CBS News, McQuarrie created the concept art that was crucial in winning 20th Century Fox's approval to put George Lucas' Star Wars in production,” David Morgan wrote for CBS News. “The success of his Star Wars paintings launched a late feature film career for McQuarrie that included helping design such classics as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial, Back to the Future, Cocoon, Total Recall, and the original TV series Battlestar Galactica.”

“People say you should never meet your heroes. Ralph was the exception to that rule. We were all fans of his amazing art long before we were blessed with his friendship. But once you got to know Ralph it was impossible not to become a fan of Ralph the man,” a post on RalphMcQuarrie.com read. “Ralph was a very special person for many more reasons than his undeniable brilliance with a brush. He was an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. And as fine a role model as any one could have wished for.”

His influence on the world of movie art, in particular the realm of science fiction, will continue to be felt for some time.

"Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator," George Lucas posted on Star Wars.com.