Three Artists Announced As Winners Of ILM’s Star Wars Concept Art Challenge


Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX company responsible for creating the look and feel of the Star Wars universe, announced the winners of their Star Wars concept art challenge. The results are incredible.

The original concept art for Star Wars has a particular style pioneered by legendary artists Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston. But just because they want to maintain that classic aesthetic for future films, doesn’t mean Industrial Light & Magic – the special effects company for the Star Wars franchise – is not eager to find new artistic talent and fresh ideas.

To that end, ILM announced the ILM Art Department Challenge in May 2016. After poring over around 3,800 entries, three winners were chosen and announced on When you see their Star Wars concept art-style work, you will understand why they were singled out.

First, Mario Alberti created a panoramic view of a rebel base. The style reminds me a little bit of anime, with its sharp angles and graceful lines. What’s even more special about Alberti’s piece is it tells a story: the rebels look like they are meeting with non-human dignitaries, perhaps during an evacuation of their base.

Image Credit: Mario Alberti, via

Next is a truly fascinating piece by Fred Palacio. The scene depicts a being in a helmet, possibly a stormtrooper, holding up a severed hand before Emperor Palpatine. I’m betting, since there is a red guard accompanying Palpatine, that this scene takes place after his rise to Emperor. That means there is a good chance the hand on display is the one Luke Skywalker loses in Cloud City.

Image Credit: Fred Palacio, via

What I love about Palacio’s piece is how many questions it poses. Where is this scene taking place? Why does the Emperor want a severed hand? What does he plan to do with it? I’m not a concept artist, but I feel like the best concept art contains myriad ideas within it, so that every time you look at it you notice something new. Palacio’s Star Wars concept art accomplishes that.

Finally, Morgan Yon created a beautiful scene of Leia and Wicket the Ewok sitting peacefully the woods of Endor, watching the sun rise (or set).

Image Credit: Morgan Yon, via

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I’m not sure if this scene could become a canon part of Star Wars, but it is a gorgeous, romantic (in the artistic sense) scene. I love the way the trees glow red and orange, and the flecks of gold here and there which probably may represent fireflies. This piece is something I would hang on my wall, because it is beautiful for its own sake and not just because it is Star Wars-themed.

It is amazing what Star Wars can inspire, particularly in the art world. The visual aspect of Star Wars has so many stunning elements, the potential for lovely, thoughtful, and profound art pieces is limitless. The three pieces above reflect that potential.

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Congratulations to Mario Alberti, Fred Palacio, and Morgan Yon for winning the ILM Art Department Challenge! We hope to see their work in a Star Wars film in the near future.