If it hadn't been for this gorgeous concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, Fox may not have embraced George Lucas' pitch for A New Hope. McQuarrie's illustrations didn't just define the Star Wars aesthetic - they made Star Wars happen.

For the most part, A New Hope stayed faithful to McQuarrie's original designs, but it's intriguing to see the character quirks that changed during production. Note Threepio's svelte ingenue figure, Artoo's robo-tentacles, and Luke's, uh, gas mask?

[via Geek Orthodox: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.]