Tim Hildebrandt

Star Wars promo poster

Star Wars promo poster art by Brothers Hildebrandt

Star Wars Illustrator Has Passed Away

Fantasy artist Tim Hildebrandt, half of the legendary “Brothers Hildebrandt” illustration team, died on June 11th from complications due to diabetes.

Tim was an otherworldly artist. For 47 years, his captivating work fostered the dreams and fantasies of millions of fans, young and old.

Clash of the Titans movie poster

Clash of the Titans movie poster

The Hildebrandt brothers (Tim and his twin brother Greg) have had a long and diverse career in commercial illustration, with subjects ranging from hobbits to pin-ups (NSFW). In the world of movie poster illustration, the brothers creations include the Clash of the Titans movie poster and Barbarella movie poster. Tim also designed The Secret of NIMH movie poster. But most will know the brothers from their contributions to the Star Wars universe, most notably an early Star Wars movie poster that would be a piece of iconic promotional artwork and served as one of the prototypes for much of the Star Wars art to follow.

Star Wars movie poster

Star Wars re-release poster

What’s interesting about the Hilderbrant Star Wars movie poster is that it wasn’t used as a one-sheet for the initial Star Wars theatrical release in U.S. theaters — yet it is, for many, the first piece of artwork they remember for the film.

Created as last minute alternate poster artwork, the Hildebrandt Star Wars poster art was an interpretation of a Star Wars movie poster design already created by artist Tom Jung.

According to the Star Wars Poster Book, Lucasfilm felt the Jung artwork was “too dark”, and wanted another version:

They hired twins Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, who were well-known fantasy artists at the time, to paint their own take on the Jung design. “The reason they called us is because Tim and I had just done the Lord of the Rings calendar, and we had a fan following.” says Greg Hildebrandt. “We had come through literally overnight for them on a poster for Young Frankenstein. It wasn’t used, but we did it overnight, so they called us and said we need a poster fast.”

Star Wars Style A movie poster

Jung art

Given the direction to make the image look “comic bookish”, the Hildebrandt movie poster (completed in just thirty-six hours) featured very stylized illustrations of actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, as the brothers did not have photo reference for the characters of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. In the end, 20th Century Fox opted to use the earlier “dark” poster art by Tom Jung instead of the Hildebrandt art for the Star Wars theatrical poster — the Star Wars “Style A” movie poster — which had a more accurate likeness of the two main characters. The Hildebrandt artwork did appear on many early Star Wars promo items, a consumer retail poster, and eventually as a U.S. theatrical poster for the Star Wars 15th Anniversary re-release.

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  1. adminJune 13, 2006 at 12:05 AMReply

    Weird timing for this considering we just posted about the Star Wars DVD art.

  2. Joe ValdezJune 14, 2006 at 10:08 AMReply

    The “dark” poster for “Star Wars” by Jung will always be the only one for me, solely because it was the first poster I ever remember looking at. I never knew there were alternate versions at the time the movie was originally released.

    This site is bananas. Not only do you feature a spectrum of great posters from all over, but the commentary is insightful and to-the-point. Keep up the great work!

  3. ryanMarch 22, 2007 at 3:21 PMReply

    Another awesome Tim Hildebrandt movie poster was for “The Deadly Spawn” which you can see a high-res image of here

  4. Talking Sith » Blog Archive » “Pick up your visual scanning”  (Poster  #2)April 21, 2009 at 11:20 AMReply

    […] s piece from about the late Tim Hildebrandt, and the creation of this iconic poster: Share this […]

  5. The Brothers Hildebrandt! «January 26, 2010 at 3:51 PMReply

    […] Tim and Greg Hildebrandt? These wonder twins were purveyors of sci-fi/fantasy art (unfortunately, Tim died in 2006) and their legendary Star Wars poster is beloved by many Lucas fanboys, but their […]

  6. Paul HassingJanuary 10, 2011 at 10:56 PMReply

    Thanks so much for this fascinating info. I’m currently selling a 1977 bedroom poster featuring this image. It has been wonderful to be able to reference your authoritative work in my eBay ad. Best regards and thanks again! P. :)

  7. Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus - Page 3August 8, 2014 at 5:55 PMReply

    […] Interesting. But, the above is not the Hildebrandt Bros. ANH artwork that I had expected to see. The artwork in the above is a variation of the cover to Marvel Star Wars #1 (1977). Here is a link to the Hildebrandt ANH poster art: Tim Hildebrandt – […]

  8. Why J.J. Abrams (Probably) Can't Ruin Star WarsOctober 20, 2015 at 5:54 AMReply

    […] comparison, here is the original poster from the first “Star Wars” film […]

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