The trivia behind the concept art of ‘Attack of the Clones’

attack of the clones art bookThe Attack of the Clones came out on 16 May 2002 and seeing as that's close enough to a 20 year anniversary, I had a look through my ‘The Art of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones' book.

There is more than just amazing concept art in there, it has plenty of facts and trivia about how the film came into being.

Author Mark Cotta Vaz shines a good insight into how  director and writer George Lucas would make decisions about what creatures and space ships and costumes would go into the film – it's an iterative process that largely appears to have worked.

It also shows 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's first feature film and it covered a range of ideas, including ‘planned reproduction of populations', control of said populations (through a bean-counter beauracracy under which human life and labour was 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 Bobba Fett, and throughout it all, 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:

imperial city ralph mcquarrie

First mentioned in the Thrawn ‘Heir to the Empire‘ novels by author Timothy Zahn and spied at the end of Return of the Jedi 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 War's 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 modelled to look like they were part of a ‘rough trade' or took part in criminal elements. 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 clonesJay Shuster had designed his concept shortly before a meeting with Lucas.

He thought maybe Lucas had seen some elements of Anakin's TPM pod-racer, Lucas certainly loved the exposed engines and it was the director himself who ordered the speeder have a paint scheme like the hot rod in his 1973

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 however eventually ended up directing the Han Solo film. 

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 AOTC, 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 his man, 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 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
Obi-Wan Kenobi takes on the Acklay
Harking back to John Carter of Mars, Ray Harryhausen and perhaps a few gladiator movies, Padme, Anakin and Obi-Wan are forced to take part in their own execution by three deadly creatures.

monsters in the area geonosis

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

The Nexu was once a lion that could breathe fire and the ‘Reek' was inspired by the dinosaur species Placerias from the Triassic period. 

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 film is. 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 battle ensues proper which makes for some great action scenes amidst the chase with Count Dooku.

Here's 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' :

  • Padme's costumes in The Phantom Menance were inspired by actual costumes from Mongolia. For Attack of the Clones, Padme was dressed in a more Elizabethan-era style. 
  • The centipede like mechanical monsters sent into Padme'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 in mind as a Sith Lord and only became green once made a Jedi. 

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Paul Rose Jr has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing articles, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.