Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects arm of Lucasfilm, published their stunning concept art for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The portfolio revealed variations of characters and planets rendered well before casting and locations were finalized. Below are just a few of the photos.
Above are some of the first renderings of Kylo Ren. Given the importance of Vader’s influence on the villain, it makes sense that Ren’s idolizing of his grandfather might include the physical manifestation of the latter. The more-man-than-machine look that Ren ultimately embodied, however, was probably the more appropriate choice for the petulant, tantrum-prone heir of Vader.
A more grizzly looking Han Solo, complete with the requisite white beard, and flossed out in a new winter coat. Harrison Ford never grew the “contractually obligated beard” that Mark Hamill flashed on Twitter during the filming of The Force Awakens. This would have been a great look, but more importantly, what is the identity of the android holding the blaster in this face-off?
Casting for The Force Awakens was completed in early 2014, which means this art was done well beforehand. It appears to illustrate Kylo Ren, sans the infamous cross-guard bladed lightsaber. He is dueling with Rey, who may or may not have been female at this point in production, with who is likely Finn in the foreground.
Based on the grounded Star Destroyer, this was going to be the original home of Rey. A bit more colorful than the beige of Jakku, but barren and war-ravaged nonetheless. The two suns setting over the Star Destroyer evoke images of Tatooine, but off to the left is clearly a body of water, which negates any connection.
There would have been no better time than the present to deploy a Jedi with a man-bun. But given the indelible nature of Star Wars imagery, this is one that would have been regrettable down the road. The Luke Skywalker we were delivered leaves no room for complaint.
Rick Carter, co-production designer for The Force Awakens, had this to say regarding the artwork:
"“Each artist began to explore his individual response, and collectively, we began to answer, with our words and art. Out of our brainstorming sessions emerged visual imagery of where we might want to go and what it would look like when we got there. We were not merely illustrating scenes that already existed: we were initiating storytelling concepts through the visual images themselves.”"
The complete catalog of artwork can be viewed at Industrial Light & Magic’s website.