I divided it into two parts, this one is about early stages of production and some of the ideas that didn't make it into the final game.
At first, the influence/references were Conan the barbarian and Frazetta, but it kinda changed along the way. The main idea was to have as much as possible a collapsing world with a lost of all its values; to strenghten and intensify the feeling of despair as the player advances through the chapters of the game.
This pre-prod concept was made to define a first direction to follow for the game:
Some pre-prod sketches made to determine the environments we would create:
A first draft of the chapter's one (the swamp) map to try to define the flow of the level:
(and some moods for it)
This environment was originally made to create a refuge for our group of adventurers, for them to hide from the ice lords and their undead trackers. It turns out even nature is turning against the undead disturbance, and the swamp is reacting with mutated life, dangerous creatures, and a mysterious corruption.
Some loose roughs for the characters:
A sketch for the swamp mermaid, an enemy not present in the final game, but re-used to do the ice spirit later on the prod. I originally thought she could lure the adventurers deeper into the marsh.
First reflexion about the elves: I wanted them to be stronger and rougher than in the usual fantasy stories. They lost their kingdom and nobility in favor of more wildness; Usually retracting from conflict they are now cornered and forced to fight, and are preparing for their final battle.
The draft for the female version of the hero:
Some cave entrance mood not used:
(supposed to be a secret escape for the prologue of the game, but there is a battle instead)
And... what could have been a mighty foe: the were-otter :)
(a silly proposition made at the time when I was designing the swamp beast (one of the bosses of chapter I))