Here's another depiction of Erik without his deformity on the same vein as this: [link]
. I always imagine him with a bit of a Sherlockian flair even with his deformity, and I think that had he been born with a normal face, he would have embodied that sort of ideal. I can't get away from a bit of gauntness with him, but I think it just suits his character so well. I picture "normal" Erik's thinness looking less cadaverous and more darkly aristocratic, if that makes any sense at all.
I wanted him to look similar to how I draw him with his mask on: stern, authoritative, powerful, intense, and confident. But I did want to imbue him with a bit of kindness here, particularly around the eyes and the mouth. After all, if he'd been born with a normal face, he'd hardly be as bitter about his brutal lot in life. He probably would have been one of the most revered composers of all time. He would have been at liberty to utilize all his endless talents. No wonder he looks content here!
Adding to that contentment factor would be the fact that he'd totally be happily married to Christine with a bunch of little Christine-lings running around his sprawling manor in the countryside that he designed and built himself.
.....Shh, permit me my little fantasy here.
I used a photo of the impossibly handsome Michael Fassbender as a reference. He always reminds me of how I envision Erik looking with, you know...a nose.
You know, come to think of it, he'd probably make a really awesome Erik in a film adaptation of Susan Kay's novel.
Irrelevant estrogen-fueled side note: I love it when men have some gray around the temples like that. I've heard some men complain about it and dye it because they're self-conscious, but I think it looks very distinguished and fancy and more than slightly attractive. There's something very refreshing about people who choose to age naturally. Lines around the eyes give character, especially from an artistic point of view. Faces are so much more fun to draw when they actually have character! I really think if more people learned to look at their bodies through an artistic lens, they would be more accepting of their flaws.
Unless you're Erik and you fly into a rage because your face makes Rameses' mummy look like George Clooney so you practically burn down an entire opera house and permanently psychologically traumatize a virginal Swedish soprano because of it.
The Phantom of the Opera belongs to Gaston Leroux.