The Trivia Behind the Concept Art of Attack of the Clones


Attack of the Clones was released on 16 May 2002 and seeing as that's pretty close to a 20-year anniversary, it's definitely worth taking a look at the book The Art of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

It's a great book. There's more than just amazing concept art in there, it has plenty of facts and trivia about how the movie came into being.

Author Mark Cotta Vaz gives a fantastic insight into how the director and writer George Lucas made decisions about what creatures, spaceships, and costumes would go into the movie – and it was an iterative process that largely appears to have worked.

The book also conveys some of the challenges that producer Rick McCallum faced and how his production team overcame them.

jango fett slave concept art

1. The Clone Trooper classrooms are a reference to Luca's first film, THX-1138

ryan church clones

The cloned troopers (from Jango Fett's DNA) were taught in giant classrooms.

Artist Edwin Natividad stated, “it's assembly line learning, no individuality. There's no personal attention, they're just soldiers being trained”. They are literally a factory production line of humans Iain McCaig confirmed the idea was they were going “back to George's THX days.”

If you were not aware, THX-1138 was Lucas' first feature film and it covered a range of ideas, including planned reproduction of populations, and control of said populations (through a bean-counter bureaucracy under which human life and labor were valued in productive units).

These concepts were totally on display in the final film:

attack of the clones thx 1138 reference

ir?t=starwars0296 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=0345431251There's a lot going on during the Kamino sequence – the introduction of the clones, Jango and Boba Fett, and throughout it, a strong thematic parallel with The Empire Strikes Back.

2. The design of Coruscant

The idea of an “Imperial City” was dabbled with as an idea by George Lucas during the pre-production of Return of the Jedi. It even had a name, Had-Abbadon. Luca asked his now-famous concept designer Ralph McQuarrie to come up with some ideas:

First mentioned in the Thrawn Heir to the Empire novels by author Timothy Zahn and spied at the end of Return of the Jedi's celebration scenes and in a bit of The Phantom Menace (refer to the Jedi Temple scenes with Yoda, Mace Windu, and friends), Attack of the Clones was Star Wars' first chance to truly flesh out the planet of Coruscant.

George Lucas challenged the design team to make the city/planet look better than Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner (which, funnily enough, starred Harrison Ford who had become a box office A-list celebrity at that point following his two Star Wars roles and his massive Lucas produced hit, Indiana Jones).

A key feature was that personal vehicles could not be found on the lower streets. Only public transport existed. The planet's lower-level inhabitants were modeled to look like they were part of a “rough trade” or took part in criminal activities. This was in strict contrast to the upper levels where the nightlife was “decadent” (death sticks, anyone?)

Here's an early design idea by Marc Gabbana:

Marc Gabbana coruscant design idea

3. Anakin's Yellow Speeder

The yellow “speeder” that Anakin Skywalker uses when he and Obi-Wan Kenobi chase the assassin Zam Wesell is, of course, a reference to the yellow hot rod that featured in George Lucas's second feature film, the beloved American Graffiti.

shuster speeder design attack clones

Jay Shuster had designed his concept shortly before a meeting with Lucas. He thought maybe Lucas had seen some elements of Anakin's pod racer from The Phantom Menace. Lucas certainly loved the exposed engines and it was the director himself who ordered the speeder to have a paint scheme like the hot rod in his 1973 movie.

Here's a screen comparison of the two films by Mike Klimo:

comparison of the yellow car in american graffiti to Attack of the Clones

Fun fact – Ron Howard has a major part in the film. He famously turned down a chance to direct The Phantom Menace, but eventually ended up directing Solo: A Star Wars Story.

You can thank Mile Klimo for that discovery.

4. When a Sith Lord is not a Sith Lord but Ventress

When Lucas was bedding in the script for Attack of the Clones, at one point, the Sith Lord that became Count Dooku was considered to be a female. Artist Dermot Power came up with this design:

dermot power female sith lord ventriss
When Lucas decided that Dooku was going to be a male, Power's design was ultimately used as the inspiration for the Clone Wars character, Ventress.
ventress original design
Power said of his work: “My first drawing had her was;k down the stairs. I gave her a slim upper body clad in armor or leather, widened her hips, gave her a heavy belt and baggy pants for a grounded feeling – like watching a samurai.”
It's amusing that the art book does not acknowledge this design became Ventress, but this of course makes sense as the book came out well before Ventress's official entry into Star Wars canon.

5. The Arena Battle Monsters are classic John Carter of Mars riffs

obi-wan battles the acklay in ATOC
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Harking back to John Carter of Mars, Ray Harryhausen, and perhaps a few gladiator movies, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are forced to take part in their own execution at the hands (or claws, teeth etc) of three deadly creatures.

monsters in the area geonosis

The amphibious acklays became so when George Lucas asked Iain McCaig to combine sketches he had done – designs likened to a velociraptor and a praying mantis.

The nexus creatures were once lions that could breathe fire and the reeks were inspired by the dinosaur species Placerias from the Triassic period.

6. The Battle of Geonosis

Attack of the Clones is a bit of a convoluted mess. We all get it, and those that don't… well, they love it, so good for them.

What's not really up for debate is how awesome the last 40 minutes of the movie are. After the arena battle with the monsters and Yoda flying in with his cloned army (apparently with no qualms about using cloned humans as meat puppets) to save the day – and then a proper battle ensues which makes for some great action scenes amidst the chase with Count Dooku.

Here are some cool concept designs that went into the battle:

air attack geonosis
battle of geonosis clone troopers
yoda geonosis concept art
ryan church geonosis artwork
jedi fight concept art
reek attack concept

Other fun facts learned from reading The Art of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones:

  • Padmé Amidala's costumes in The Phantom Menance were inspired by actual costumes from Mongolia. For Attack of the Clones, Padmé was dressed in a more Elizabethan-era style.
  • The centipede-like mechanical monsters sent into Padmé's room by Zam Wessel are called “kouhuns.”
  • Jango Fett‘s Slave 1 ship was designed to look similar to the Millenium Falcon as if it had been made in the same era or even by the same manufacturer.
  • Kit Fisto was originally designed as a Sith Lord and only became green once he was made a Jedi.

Order the book from Amazon.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.