I got a big pit in my stomach when I found out about this yesterday, and still have it today. I am so saddened by this, he was such a huge influence on me and that's why I am an artist today. I would never have considered it to be a career without his inspiration. I will miss him greatly.
The passing of a Master. His legacy will live on in the motion pictures which bear the fruits of his incredible artistry and imagination. We can still learn so much from what he accomplished in his life's work, even today. RIP to a true visionary. I think what George Lucas wrote about Ralph on the SW website exemplifies his contribution, that Ralph would create a work of art based on Lucas' requests and then Lucas would say "Do it like this". Whose vision was it? I think the artist's.
I remember how glad Ralph was when eFX presented him the proto of the Vader helmet, and how happy was during the entire process of making that helmet, then he was enthusiastic to hear about this Stormtrooper helmet as well. He felt again young, his illness was defeated those days, because people were so interested not just in his previous work but also on his thought about future work. Artists care more about their work than their own lives.
I remember years ago when I helped his wife Joan with a traditional Romanian blouse very similar with the one wore by Marion in Indiana Jones. Both of them were so graceful, all the messages were friendly, and everyone knows he still signed stuff for free until recently - which is not the case with many other artists or celebrities. Ralph was different, he respected everyone, and he enjoyed seeing people writing to him. He shared small parts of his life with other people, because he loved everyone.
A few glimpses of Ralph McQuarrie the man:
REST IN PEACE! Among the stars you loved to paint.