Among one of the most iconic costumes in the history of Hollywood, the Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper costume has also been a significant inspiration for a variety of CMF directions. But how did the original and memorable design come to be? After being hired by George Lucas to help visualize the world of Star Wars back in 1975, concept designer Ralph McQuarrie took to his drawing and painting boards to create the very first Imperial Stormtrooper. In this product evolution from insane Star Wars memorabilia site, we get a behind the scenes look of how one of film’s most memorable costumes went from a sketch to a final product.

The Making of a Stormtrooper

mcquarrie-original-stormtrooperThe first round of iterations on the Stormtrooper character designed by Ralph McQuarrie in 1975 was very close to the final product.


After a year of approval processes from Fox executives, an original clay sculpt was produced for the Stormtrooper helmet and armor. Slight changes were made at this stage (as is usual when creating a 3D model) before the final bust was made.


Due to the short timeframe, the designers decided to skip fiberglass (which was used for Darth Vader) in favor of vacuum forming thermoplastics. The final design was split into two sections (face plate and helmet/cap) which were than fastened together with bolts. The resulting overlapping of materials led to the decision to add ‘ears’ onto the helmets in order to hide the hardware.

original-stormtrooper-helmets-in-street-1976A production run of vacuum formed Stormtrooper helmets ready for the big screen.

In total, fifty-six Stormtrooper helmets and costumes were made for the original Star Wars movie. Fifty of which were ‘stunt’-ready helmets and six of which were more detailed ‘close up’-ready helmets…which were vacuum formed with shiny white ABS plastic rather than High Density Poly Ethylene which was used for the other fifty ‘stunt’ helmets.

hero-and-stunt-stormtrooper-armorAn example of a ‘stunt’ costume created from HDPE (left) and a ‘hero’ close-up costume created from ABS (right).


For more information on the history of the Imperial Stormtrooper costumes (and Star Wars costumes in general), head over to

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Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.