When Star Wars: The Clone Wars first debuted in 2008, the animated series introduced new characters like the fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano and stylized versions of beloved prequel trilogy mainstays like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Over 7 award-winning seasons and 133 thrilling episodes, fans followed the adventures of Snips and Sky Guy as the galactic conflict touched off in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones raged. Bridging the gap between the second and third films in the Star Wars prequel trifecta, The Clone Wars brought the war to life thanks to a dedicated team of both cast and crew working behind the scenes. In this exclusive excerpt from the new Star Wars Insider special, Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collector’s Edition, which arrives today, character designer and maquette sculptor Darren Marshall discusses bringing classic aliens and characters like Chewbacca the Wookiee into animation for the series, now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.
Star Wars Insider: How long does it take to build each piece?
Darren Marshall: I’ll read a script, and then I’ll block out a head in a day or two. I’ll take a photograph of the head if Dave [Filoni]’s approved it, and then I’ll put it into Photoshop on my computer. Next I’ll draw a body and costume, and then paint the whole thing over the top of the pictures of the maquette head and the body for the finished design. Chewbacca took a fair bit longer because of the accuracy we were trying to go for on the fur.
Star Wars Insider: Was it a daunting prospect to recreate him?
Darren Marshall: It was, because he’s so recognizable, and all the fans are going to be scrutinizing him! There was a huge amount of pressure to get Chewie right. We don’t do realistic hair on the show, so we had to come up with a way of stylizing the fur. We went to the Lucasfilm Archives, where they had on of the old Chewbacca masks that had been used in Return of the Jedi. It was very old and crumbling at the front. They also had the Revenge of the Sith prequel costume. We noticed that the prequel fur was very straight and soft, but the original costume used yak fur, which had an extremely wavy shag to it. We responded to that because we thought we could stylize that better. The look of the character in The Clone Wars was based on A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, because of that yak fur. It’s very scrappy looking. It’s like one of those old 1970s rugs that your aunt used to have in her living room.
Star Wars Insider: Which do you prefer working on, human characters or aliens?
Darren Marshall: I like them both. I’m in my 40s now and the original Star Wars came out when I was seven, so I love the original trilogy. I usually get the classic characters to work on: I’ve been given Bossk, Greedo, a Gamorrean Guard and Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin and Chewbacca were big, so I really wanted to try and get them as accurate as possible while keeping true to the style of our show.
Star Wars Insider: How much artistic license do you have when you’re working?
Darren Marshall: If you’re doing a classic character, you can’t really change it. The only way you’re changing it is by putting a style mark on it, such as Bossk or Greedo. It’s taking those very “creature-y” textures and doing a new angle on the features, but still trying to make it look like the characters. For Chewie, there were so many great reference photographs that I hadn’t seen before, that I could try to get every detail. For example, he’s got a slight under-bite in some of the photographs, and I tried to put that in the maquette. Hopefully the fans can look at it and instantly know that’s Chewie!
Read the rest of this interview and other stories in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collector’s Edition available today, and subscribe to Star Wars Insider now for more of the latest news, in-depth articles, and exclusive interviews in every issue!
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