The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Posted January 12, 2016 by Ryan Campbell in Nerdy Bits

I love desktop books and I really love Star Wars desktop books so after seeing The Force Awakens I immediately wanted to pick up The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even though we’re looking at concept art I’m gonna throw a general spoiler warning on this just to cover my bases.

By now you get the general idea of an art book or a desktop book, fill a quality book with high-res images that you flip through whilst you ohhh and awww. This book was so much more and was absolutely fascinating to read. Even without a single picture I would have been glued to it as it reveals insight and details on the entire creation process of this new world. This is so much beyond just concept art, this is artist and creators who grew up loving Star Wars now dealing with the insane pressure of building a new universe. The early parts of the book focus greatly on this burden, the idea that it had to be familiar and fit in the universe but free enough to stand on its own and be unique enough to their own creative vision. That is easier said than done with any existing franchise let alone possibly the biggest entertainment franchise of all time. The book has fascinating insight and behind the scenes looks at the entire creation process with quotes and stories of JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy as they were tasked with bringing the universe back.


One thing that is evident as you read the book is this story was completely from scratch, there are so many threads and storylines, even entire characters that began nowhere close to what we finally saw on screen. It’s refreshing, in a world where so many things are adapted from comics or young adult novels, to see a truly creative process where they started with almost nothing story wise is exhilarating. It is amazing to see how we ended up where we did and how close we came to Kylo Ren’s character being called “Jedi Killer”. A character who dresses up like Vader to get in Luke’s head and actually himself eats the energy of the sun. The creation of Kylo alone is an adventure, it’s clear they took great care with this character as he went through many iterations before becoming what we saw on screen. The process did yield some great images that all were used in other ways, you may notice one image becomes the Guavian gang enforcer.


The other two look suspiciously like the new Sith Inquisitors on Star Wars: Rebels. We all know Dave Fioni loves raiding the concept bin for ideas.


The early changes go even further at one point Poe was an African American pirate who died early on, Rey’s name was Kira and Finn’s name was Sam and he was white. At one point a significant chunk of the story took place underwater as Kira was tasked with retrieving the map to Luke from the Emperors throne room which now lies at the bottom of an ocean in the rubble of the second death star. At one point Star killer base itself was underwater. The book is filled with enough alternate scenarios I wouldn’t mind seeing that movie as well.Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 11.22.57 AM

About mid-way through you start seeing things form into what we know to be the eventual movie and seeing the process gradually reach that point is engaging and eye-opening. Things become more familiar and the result is some of the most beautiful imagery I’ve seen in Star Wars. It is clear the work of Ralph McQuarrie is heavily influential to some of the artist and seeing modern work done with a McQuarrie flare was a delight. There is also some great art of ship and weapon design, I found this image of a lightsabre stripped to it’s bare essentials to be pretty awesome as you see the ignitor crystal and the main crystal.


As a die hard Star Wars fan and a big fan of this movie this book was so much more than a collection of cool images. It gives insight into a group of passionate creators who love the Star Wars universe and just wanted to deliver a great experience. The delicate care that was taken with each element really shows how serious they took this task and that is to be commended. Perhaps with medals in a large stone sanctuary of some kind. I cannot recommend this book enough for any fan of Star Wars there is so much more cool info but I will leave some for you to discover.


About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.