While working at Dark Horse, Plunkett was introduced to Henry Gilroy, who would later become Story Editor on the first season of the Clone Wars
CG animated series. The two became friends, and kept in touch in the years following their work at Dark Horse. After landing the job on Clone Wars
in 2005, Gilroy showed Plunkett's work to producer Catherine Winder and supervising director Dave Filoni.
"I hoped that, at most, I might get to do a little freelance design work on some minor characters or props somewhere down the road," remembers Plunkett.
Filoni met with Plunkett shortly thereafter. "We both shared similar ideas on what made Star Wars look like Star Wars and not like anything else," says Plunkett. "I was able to leave some copies of comics like 'The Jabba Tape' with him and a few weeks later he gave me a call asking to do some character turns. I was expecting to get a random bounty hunter, but the first two characters I was assigned were Mace Windu and Palpatine!"
Since working on The Clone Wars, Plunkett has tried his hand at designing a little bit of everything -- environments, vehicles, weapons, creatures, and characters. His first order of business, however, is character design. While the new Clone Wars series has a clearly defined look and style, Plunkett did refer to the characters of the original 2-D Cartoon Network series when designing the new CG animated characters.
"We looked at how Paul Rudish and Genndy [Tartakovsky] approached the characters to see if we could find certain shapes or features that had a similar feel and adapt them to work in three dimensions," explains Plunkett. "This meant finding shapes that are not quite as angular or severe but still have a stylized graphic 'swoop' to them. Often I'll just draw the character in a simplified version of the way I'd normally draw things. From there I'll show them to Dave, he'll pick one or two that he likes and I'll go in and stylize or streamline them to fit into the unique brand of reality that The Clone Wars is aiming for."
Being intimately familiar with the look and feel of the Star Wars movies during the last 14 years of his professional career has allowed Plunkett to translate the distinctive Star Wars aesthetic into his own work on Clone Wars. "Star Wars design is its own unique thing," he says. "There's a certain blend of elements of the old and the new that can be hard to put into words but you know it when you see it. The universe that George came up with is one of those very rare creations that is different to the world we know but feels like a real place. You need to try and absorb the look and feel of the movies so that you can see the shapes and colors that show up over and over. Watching the movies is the only way to really 'get it' -- all the classic McQuarrie and Johnston designs, and the way that Doug [Chiang], Eric [Tiemens] and Ryan [Church] followed those templates. Hopefully there'll be designs in this series that people will really enjoy too."