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The cover of The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story includes a portrait study of Han and Chewbacca.

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The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story captures the effort to recreate an iconic hero

Exclusive images from The Art of Solo: A Star Wars story, including early portrayals of Han Solo, Lando Calrissian and a reimagined Millennium Falcon

Abrams Books/Disney

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Abrams Books’ The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, is now available on Amazon and at retailers around the country, and Polygon has your first look inside with a set of exclusive new images, all of which contributed to the look and feel of the final film.

Author Phil Szostak worked directly with the team at Disney to uncover the most vital art and concept illustrations created in the lead-up to the film. He also worked hard to contextualize each artifact and place it within the larger Star Wars canon. The book includes forwards by the film’s production designer, Neil Lamont, and visual effects art director James Clyne.

The Art of Solo is just the latest in an entire series of lavish art books covering all of the modern Star Wars films. You can see images from the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi books here on Polygon.

What follows will spoil parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now.

The cover of The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story includes a portrait study of Han and Chewbacca. Abrams Books/Disney

The Art of Solo spends quite a bit of time discussing the creation of the costumes for the movie’s cast of characters, both old and new. Perhaps the biggest challenge was finding the right look for Han Solo himself.

The one that [costume designer] Dave Crossman and I liked at the very beginning is the one that we ended up with,” costume designer Glyn Dillon tells Szostak. “That Steve McQueen, early ‘70s, suede leather look. It felt very ‘Han Solo’ straight away. Adding the black yoke on the shoulders and a little bit of Star Wars detailing didn’t feel too challenging. That was a good hit for your hero look.”

A study of Han Solo’s costume featuring a short jacket.
Han Short Jacket Version 06
Glyn Dillon/Abrams Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

“We saw an exhibition at the [Victoria & Albert Museum] in London,” recalls costume designer David Crossman. “I can’t remember which exhibition it was, but in it there was a nice combination of brown and black suede. As soon as we saw that, we put the black panels onto the jacket.

“The next thing was playing with [actor Alden Ehrenreich’s] height and physicality to carefully work out the length of the jacket and how slim it looks on the arms, so he looks heroic enough. When you look at old Han Solo photos, everything was cropped in the seventies — super short. So we shortened the sleeves. We kept the belt pretty much the same. That’s Alden’s favorite costume.”

Beckett Vandor, played by Woody Harrelson, initially appears in the garb of an Imperial officer on the front lines. But his true character reveal comes a bit later in the film, and required its own special look.

Beckett Vandor dual wields a pair of pistols in his signature leather duster.
Beckett Vandor 3A
Adam Brockbank/Abrams Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

“The idea with Beckett is that he’s Han’s mentor,” Dillon says. “It’s very much a cowboy movie — the classic cowboy duster coat fulfills that. We added the familiar Star Wars greeblies, bits of random technology, on his shoulder to bring it into that world. For a while, we were thinking of having canvas on the outside and fur on the inside of his coat. But once the casting came through, we had to adjust. We tried to embrace those restrictions with things like his holsters, which we made from a paler canvas and are actually really nice.”

“I’m glad we got to keep the duster so pale,” Crossman says. “There’s more costume changes on this film, especially with Han, than usual. Most of the time with Star Wars, you try to keep the lead characters on a simple line of changes. Woody’s duster coat seems to suit all occasions. He’s meant to have the look of Han’s mentor. There’s something there for Han to emulate.”

Back Room Version 1B
Adam Brockbank/Abrams Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Another image, spread across two pages in the middle of the book, includes a detailed look at a late-stage mock-up of the back room sabacc game where Han Solo and Lando Calrissian meet for the first time.

“This is definitely a showcase moment, more so than any other scene that we’ve had so far,” creature and special make-up effects creative supervisor Neal Scanlan says in the book. “We are around a table, and these guys are playing cards with human actors. We’ve got to respond accordingly. There are Star Wars ingredients, just like there are James bond ingredients. If there isn’t a sexy girl in James Bond, it’s not a James Bond film. That’s just the way it is. It’s great. It’s Star Wars. We are a table with aliens playing cards for the Millennium Falcon! It doesn’t get better, does it?”

Concept art for Dryden’s party room, a set seen multiple times through the film.
Dryden’s Party Version 1A
Adam Brockbank/Abrams Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

The book also reveals several radical redesigns of the iconic Millennium Falcon, including this long, slender shape by Ian McQue.

Falcon Version 01
Ian McQue/Abrams Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

You can read Polygon’s review of Solo: A Star Wars Story, where we called the film, “charming, exciting, [and] genuinely entertaining.” There’s also a new episode of the Quality Control podcast on the way where we’ll break the movie down in great detail. Finally, don’t miss our history of Star Wars fan fiction and the rare pairings it’s helped to create over the years.


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