Doug Chiang didn’t go to art school.
But as many readers would know, he worked his way up at places like Rhythm & Hues, Robert Abel and Associates and ILM, landing the role as the head of the Lucasfilm art department on the Star Wars prequels starting in 1995. Here he worked with George Lucas on designing a new angle on the Star Wars world.
‘What was it like working with George?’, Chiang says people ask him all the time. It was terrifying for two reasons, he explained in a packed out session at the recent Trojan Horse was a Unicorn event in Portugal.
The first reason was that Chiang was trying to fill the shoes of his heroes – Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston. And the other thing was something Lucas told him on the first day, ‘Forget everything you know about Star Wars.’
That revelation completely blew Chiang’s mind because he had been angling almost solely towards mimicking McQuarrie and Johnston’s famous Star Wars designs. However, Chiang reflects now that it was a blessing since it allowed him to dig deep on what was the design philosophy of Star Wars – what makes it work? The end process in the prequels would be slightly different, but the process would be identical to what had come before.
These are the four principles of Star Wars design Chiang came up with. Continue reading “Doug Chiang’s 4 principles of Star Wars design”