Portland's White Stag Sign

Stag Sign 1

The type of graphics we make at Fat Pencil Studio usually favor clear communication over dramatic flair, but after we modeled Portland's iconic White Stag sign in SketchUp, I couldn't resist animating some lighting effects.

Here's a quick overview of the process:

And voila! A sunset glow in the sky completes the scene (though astute observers may notice the West Hills are missing).

But wait, there's more!

AfterEffects includes a camera tracker that can analyze 2d footage and create a virtual 3d scene– an essential tool for adding graphics to video footage so that they appear to be placed in the scene. I exported a short video from SketchUp, and used the camera tracker to replace the static Stag sign in the SketchUp model with the animated sign from AfterEffects.

And in case you like to nerd out on Portland history as much as we do...

  • Originally constructed in 1940, the sign first advertised the White Satin sugar company. The original sign included the Oregon outline still visible today, and animated lighting showing the state filling up with sugar.
  • In 1957, the sign was changed to advertise White Stag sportswear, and the familiar leaping stag was added to the top.

Still advertising White Stag Sportswear in 1984. The stag gets a red Rudolf nose at Christmas time each year.

•White Stag left Oregon in the late 80's, and the new tenant of the building, Bill Naito (yes, that Naito), kept the sign lit for several years until his death in 1996. In 1997, the text was changed to read "Made in Oregon" – an advertisement for the gift shop owned by Bill Naito's son, Bob.

•In 2008, after renovations to the building underneath the sign, the University of Oregon became the primary building tenant. Changing the text to read "University of Oregon" was proposed (as well as adding an "O" logo to the nearby water tower) but public backlash halted the plan.

•With plans stalled and no one paying the electricity bill, talk of dismantling the sign began. However, in 2010, the city purchased the sign and changed the lettering to the current "Portland Oregon"


Joel Newman is a Senior Designer at Fat Pencil Studio