ILM Original Trilogy Model Photo Gallery – Plus, Star Wars Invades The Real World.

ILM - John Dykstra and ANH StarfightersWhile not directly related to Star Wars: Episode 7, we found a couple of pages that are just too cool not to share with you all. Given the current paucity of new Episode 7 news/rumors/rumblings in the wake of last week’s big concept image leak, I thought this might be a fun way to pass a little time.


First up, we’ve got this Imgur gallery of 141 ILM archive photos showing various OT models under construction, along with photos of the models themselves. There are some truly amazing close-ups showing details that I hadn’t seen before.


ILM - ANH Y-wing and X-wing models
(Note the call sign wing markings on the X-wings)


ILM - ESB Executor bridge
(The conning tower/bridge of the SSD Executor, showing the vast scale of the ship itself)


ILM - ROTJ speeder bike control panel
(Close-up of the control panel of a speeder bike – with markings in Aurebesh)


When fans applaud the decision of the Episode 7 production team to focus more on practical effects than was done in the prequel films, this is the level of old-school craftsmanship that has people so excited.



Then there’s this brilliant series of images from photographer Thomas Dagg, who cleverly inserted Star Wars elements into a series of his own black-and-white photos. They range from funny to eerie to downright ominous, and each and every one of them is a mighty impressive and imaginative effort in its own right.


Thomas Dagg tauntaun


Thomas Dagg - Jawas


Thomas Dagg - Imperial star destroyer


The entire series of 18 images is well worth checking out over at Thomas’ site. (Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a rather creative use for a probe droid!)


+ posts

26 thoughts on “ILM Original Trilogy Model Photo Gallery – Plus, Star Wars Invades The Real World.

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Yay! A new post! I’ve been waiting forever! 😛

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    “(Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a rather creative use for a probe droid!)”

    What, no wink? 😉

    • October 24, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Nary a wink, nor a nudge, nor even a say-no-more. ;^)

  • October 23, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Man those models are cool! I’ve never seen the SSD up close… I’m guessing there were several models of that right? The model used for it’s destruction in ROTJ looks a lot more detailed than that.

    I don’t remember seeing that side of the speeder bike… was it ever visible on film?

  • October 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Is it me..or did they use the tweeter on that speaker in tha background as inspiration for the Tie Fighter cockpit?

    • October 24, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Y’know, that actually wouldn’t surprise me. Maybe not THAT specific tweeter, but given what I’ve heard about what it was like at ILM in the early days, I do tend to envision some rather stoned brainstorming sessions with the stereo going in the background and bits and pieces of inspiration coming from whatever stuff around the room happened to catch the eye.

      I believe I recall that the Slave 1 design came from a streetlight that one of the designers really liked the look of. I love stuff like that!

  • October 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    The level of detail on the TIE fighter struts *alone* is insane!!
    Bravissimo,, gentlemen!

  • October 24, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Those imgur pics are all actually Ep. VII leaks from Pinewood in 2014. JJ just made everyone wear clothes from the 70s as a security measure.

    • October 24, 2014 at 2:20 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised. Everything I’ve heard about production sounds like they’re going backwards instead of forwards.

      • October 24, 2014 at 6:04 pm

        Utilizing older technology doesn’t equal “going backwards” if the overall result is a better movie.
        In other words, the amount of cutting edge used to make a movie is not directly proportional to the quality of the finished product.

  • October 24, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Unfortunately they ruined all that beautiful craftsmanship by tossing overwhelmingly gaudy CGI all over it. + using CGI where it didn’t have to be used (one example: close up shots of clone troopers).

    I recently got a reference series tv and do find the quality of the OT images to be superior to that of the PT. I haven’t compared it ROTJ to TPM, Something about that early digital filming just doesn’t look good, TPM might be different. That’s not the case anymore but I definitely wasn’t wowed by watching ROTS on my set… but ROTJ made my jaw hit the floor. The only thing is that the set makes things like model matte lines more apparent/ mechanical Matte paintings looks like a paintings. Planet paintings still look pretty real though.

    • October 24, 2014 at 2:19 am

      You just can’t stand hearing someone say something good about the prequels, Aras? We should call you OT Cop.

    • October 24, 2014 at 3:39 am

      Definitely check out TPM! The late 90’s film stock captured those models beautifully. Theed in particular is probably the single best looking “thing” in the entire saga, all things considered. But I will second you on ROTJ; the run on the Death Star II is mind blowing for 1983.

      • October 24, 2014 at 6:13 am

        Anon… I own the movies and I actually do watch them a lot because I enjoy the sound. I will give credit where credit is due… Prequel SFX are impressive and I use it to demo my sound system whenever I make a change. There are things about the Prequels I like and things I don’t like. The thing about the models in the prequels is… I’ve read that there was actually more model making used in the Prequels than in the OT. However… a lot of it was for background scenery, so they would build a set that’s like 1/10th scale, and blow it up to be presented as what would replace the green screen. A lot of it was sterile imagery which felt very unnatural. On the other hand some of the CGI scenery was pretty cool… like the Coruscant sequences, especially during the chase scene at the start of Episode II… I thought that looked great. I don’t hate everything about the CGI is the PT… but I felt like it got in the way a lot… sometimes a “less is more” approach works better for certain scenes.

        Thanks John I will try out TPM on this tv soon. Yeah that whole battle sequence at the end of Jedi is probably my favorite battle sequence of any film ever made… seeing those capitol ships go at it with hundreds of fighters flying around… oh man. Epic. Hope to see more of that in VII.

  • October 24, 2014 at 2:13 am

    these ILM pictures are great!

    the photos by Thomas are very well done, the star wars vehicles/characters blend right in 🙂

  • October 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Slow news day……dammit.

  • October 24, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Jedi / Jedidiah (Prophet)
    Kira / Kurosawa (Film director)
    Sheev / Shiva (Hindu, destroyer of worlds)

    • October 24, 2014 at 10:26 am

      Sith / Scythian

    • October 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Jedi – Edo Jedi (japanese history)

    • October 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Yoda / Yoga
      Hey, this is fun!

  • October 24, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Man, these are so awesome!

  • October 24, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Spaceships still use traditional steering flaps, who knew? Those models were just packed with detail, every part must have taken hours to make. I cannot imagine how long those guys must have worked to produce that many vehicles.
    The thing that surprises me though is how art and crafts it is, what i mean is on the millen. falcon, you can see how it’s just a big puzzle-work of flat pieces of molded or carved plastic. But they took that and ran with it and produced just marvelous work. You do not see amount of hand-crafting often, paralleled (to my knowledge) only by the guys at Weta’ who worked on Lord of the Rings.

    It’s not Ep VII news, but thanks for the link, a good reminder of one the most important things about the Saga.

  • October 25, 2014 at 12:25 am

    “When fans applaud the decision of the Episode 7 production team to focus more on practical effects than was done in the prequel films, this is the level of old-school craftsmanship that has people so excited.”

    Sorry but once again I have to point out that the prequels did 10 times plus the practical work of the OT.

    Everything you can name that the OT did the prequels also did that plus on top of all of innovations digitally. The ST will be no different.

    For whatever reason people get practical mixed up with analog and think digital is only CGI. It isn’t. CG is a part of digital.

    People also forget that the OT used motion control cameras which were controlled by computers so you could say that they could have coined the phrase CGM computer generated motion back then.

    The really odd thing is that people seem to skip over the comments of the cast while making the OT. You know about how nothing is there and they have to use their imagination etc etc?

    It’s a shame that the incredible craftsmanship of the prequels gets overlooked for no good reason. It’s also strange because the whole point of the OT was to push technology to where it had never been before by using pre-existing methods applied in ways not done before.

    The prequels did the same thing and in fact went far further because Lucas was the one pushing the digital envelope for years and years in the industry to allow all the incredible things the prequels did which were the result of ILM and all the things that have been done since which allows the modern films we have now that were impossible with analog methods to be done now.

    This means all the modern superhero and fantasy films as well as all the new Star Wars. JJ used all these methods on his Trek films and will be using them on VII.

    I’m not sure what some people are expecting VII to be. It’s not going to be some throwback film that will look like it comes from the 80’s. It’s going to be a modern film that will fit distincly into the level of movie-making like the prequels gave us.

    • October 25, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Very astute points. But the prequels did 10 times plus the practical work of the OT because they had 10 times the content. / And what JJ and Kathy mean is that they’re going for a certain style of filmmaking which harkens back to the originals.

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