An Advertising Empire: Creating the Star Wars Rebels Propaganda Posters

Amy Beth Christenson, Star Wars Rebels artist

Photo by Joel Aron

I get to spend my days designing some of the characters, environments, and spaceships here at Lucasfilm — and also had the very fun task of helping create the six Star Wars Rebels Imperial poster cards that popped up online this week. (Before working on Star Wars Rebels, I was a concept artist on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and several LucasArts games, including The Force Unleashed.)

For this particular series of images, the artists on the team were free to come up with any and all poster designs. The only guidelines given were that they should convey pro-Imperial propaganda, and that the style should be similar to posters seen in the 1940s. I’m a very big fan of that era in history and art style (not to mention Star Wars), so it was a lot of fun to come up with several different ideas at this stage. Most of the early sketches fit into the style of Rebels and its time period, others not quite so much — I couldn’t resist making a version of “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” with the Executor crashing into Death Star II. But for the most part, the state of the galaxy in the Rebels era is very similar to real-world sentiments of years past, so there was a lot to draw from. For instance, the Empire isn’t relying on clones anymore, so recruitment needed to be a major theme. Also, they’d want to keep the local star systems from rebelling, and would have images depicting the Imperial forces in a heroic light.

From this round of early sketches, the final six designs were chosen. Since the early images were fairly loose thumbnails, the next phase was to clean up each poster into their final, crisp, high-resolution versions. The colors used in the posters were important — they needed to feel cold and Imperial, but also a bit vintage. These were slightly adjusted, and a layer of graininess was added to each image to reinforce it. There were also a few tweaks and fixes that needed to be made aside from that; the Imperial Navy poster originally had a Lambda-class shuttle as part of the fleet, but that didn’t quite fit into the timeline of Rebels, so it was replaced by a new ship from the show. One of my favorites is the one that highlights the Inquisitor; he’s a character that I’m really looking forward to, and one that I think the fans will be excited about.

Every poster has a sneak peek of what’s to come on Star Wars Rebels. Even though everything has been simplified down into a graphic shape for the sake of the images, most of what you see is taken directly from the final show designs. Just something for you to think about…