Following the release of Pokémon Black & White in Japan, magazine Nintendo Dream published an interview with Ken Sugimori of Game Freak discussing the design inspirations of various Pokémon from the Unova region. This wasn’t covered by fansites much (although Bulbapedia’s trivia section contains excerpts for some species), but finally a translation of the May issue has been released by Dr. Lava on his website. I’m including some of the tidbits I found most interesting below, but I highly recommend reading the full article on his site.
This includes insights such as Hydreigon (and its pre-evolutions) being originally based on tanks, with the purple underbelly still retaining its tread-like design. It was also originally supposed to include many more heads, but was too fearsome.
Throh and Sawk also have a unique connection to Tornadus and Thundurus, with the former pair having their horns removed as too not appear too similar to the latter two. Landorus wasn’t even created until later in the games’ development.
Fascinating to me was the design of Tynamo, Eelektrik and Eelektross being based upon the real-life experience of former Game Freak illustrator Yusuke Ohmura (who also designed Greninja). He caught a massive eel which became the inspiration for Eelektrik and then designed a pre-evolution and evolution for it as well. Image courtesy of Te Ara.