Who was Colin Cantwell? Exploring the legacy of Star Wars’ X-Wing and Death Star designer as he passes away at 90

Colin Cantwell passed away on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at the age of 90. The concept artist is believed to have passed away at his Colorado home after a long battle with dementia. Cantwell’s longtime partner, Sierra Dall, later informed Newsy of the artist’s death.

Colin Cantwell, visionary icon designer and builder #Star Wars ships including the X-wing, TIE fighter and the Death Star, died Saturday at his Colorado home after battling dementia, said Sierra Dall, his longtime partner for know @Newsy. Cantwell is 90 years old. #REST IN PEACE

He is best known for his collaboration with George Lucas on Star Warswhere he develops and builds prototypes for the X-wing, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and Death Star, among others.

The legacy of the late Colin Cantwell

Colin Cantwell was born in San Francisco in 1932, and his fascination with space began at a young age. He went on to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he proposed the school develop an animation program. Cantwell will become UCLA’s first animation graduate.


Cantwell spent much of the 1960s and 1970s working on both real-life NASA missions, final frontier exploration, and sci-fi fantasies of what might happen there.

Cantwell had a successful career before coming to Hollywood. Cantwell has worked at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, developing community education initiatives to help people understand space flight.

Cantwell has gone on to design some classic scenes in many sci-fi films, combining his interests in architecture and space. Concepts for 2001: A Space Odysseyespecially the dramatic opening sequence of the film, is one of his contributions.

He say:

“I worked closely with Stanley Kubrick and convinced him not to start the film with a 20-minute conference table discussion.”

He got a call from George Lucas asking him to be a concept artist on Star Wars after seeing his work on the spaceship in 2001 and after he worked as a technical dialogue consultant for Steven Spielberg’s Close encounters of the third type in 1973.

His prototype drawings were used to create all of the ships depicted in the 1977 classic, from the X-Wing fighter and Rebel cruiser to the Star Destroyers and Death Star.

RIP Colin Cantwell. You might know him for creating the Death Star, X-Wing, and many other Star Wars designs. I had a chance to meet him once and he was very kind. Star Wars wouldn’t be possible without him.

Cantwell says that the X-Wing was inspired by the back of a dart he used during a pub night, while the Death Star trench, which Luke Skywalker flew down to destroy, came from a sloth.

His contribution to the Star Wars franchise cannot be overstated as his work established the design ideals of the franchise, which are still relevant today through newly created designs. featured in shows like The Mandalorian.

Colin, however, doesn’t stop there. He went on to work as a computer programmer in John Badham’s Cold War thriller War gamesreleased in 1983.

Colin Cantwell enjoyed a quiet life, away from the limelight, working as a computer engineer in Colorado in his later years. CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2 are his two science fiction novels. And fans will warmly remember the artist for his contributions in creating a galaxy far, far away.

Edited by Soumyadyuti Ghosh

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Emma Bowman

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