Colin Cantwell's Pre-Production Work on Star Wars

By Norman Chan

Original Prop Blog has a great interview with the effects veteran and some never before seen artwork.

Most Star War fans know the name Ralph McQuarrie, the concept artist who laid the foundation for the look of the original trilogy. And some people even know the names of the more celebrated ILM modelmakers, like Lorne Peterson and Don Bies, whose teams at the ILM miniatures shop fabricated the actual shooting models for the films. But not many people know the name Colin Cantwell, even though they might be familiar with his work. Cantwell was a modelmaker at ILM, who was actually the first to prototype Star Wars' iconic vehicles from McQuarries' paintings. His prop model prototypes of the Death Star, TIE Fighter, X-Wing, and numerous other ships are like the missing links between McQuarrie and what we saw on screen.

Image credit: Colin Cantwell

Jason DeBord, who runs the Original Prop Blog, had the privileged of sitting down with Mr. Cantwell for an extended interview about his work in special effects, which ranges from design on 2001: A Space Odyssey to conceptualizing the look of the NORAD command room set for WarGames. The eight-part interview is on YouTube (and embedded below), and DeBord's post about his visit features some fantastic artifacts from the production of Star Wars. Not only do we get to see some of Cantwell's original sketches and art for Star Wars for the first time, but also production illustrations for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and WarGames. Cantwell has also put up his collection for sale, with an auction just started this morning. You can read more about his collection on the auction site, as well as see what pieces are available.