I have been using my virtual soapbox exploring the methods I use to layout dovetails. I have two strong opinions when it comes to dovetail layouts: One, it's important they're simple and straightforward to carry out, something repeatable and consistent enough to be easily repeated. And two, there is no "Unifying Theory of The Dovetail Continuum," no "One" way to do it right. As a designer and builder of fine furniture you should be versed and flexible in using several different layouts so you can use choose the right look for the right circumstance. Don't ever make the mistake of locking yourself down into one pragmatic view of your pins and tails.
If you're just joining the conversation or want a refresher of where we've been already you can find all the dovetail layout posts collected together HERE.
I believe yet one more Dovetail Maxim: Dovetail joints are meant to be created with a hand powered saw. Remove the waste however you want, but there is no replacement for the simple, straight-forward hand saw to create the lines that define the joint. I do not care if you have a whole chest of drawers in a dovetailed carcass on your plate, do it the right way. The only time you could convince me a router is the way to go is if you have to build more than fifty or so drawers in a weekend. Short of that, a Leigh Jig or other random router dovetail template is a waste of your hard earned money.
So since we are doing the right thing and cutting our dovetails by hand, then why wouldn't you use that fact to your advantage. You are not a machine so you do not have to cut your dovetails like one either. Unless the design calls for subtle even dovetails that blend in to the background, why not add some pop with some staggered pacings and varied sizings. After all dovetails are the showoff of the joint world. They like to scream "Hey! Look at me!" So changing up the game a little can lead to some nice results that don't have to be distracting, but can instead showcase your artistry.
The key is to remember the eye likes symmetry and grouping. I repeat my sizing from the right side of the layout to the left side to keep that symmetry. I will also group two or three smaller pins together with wider spaces between them. Groupings of more than three tend to begin to look busy and too many varied widths can look amateurish. I rarely do more than two or three different sized spacings in a design. Well executed simplicity will be more dazzling than complexity.
Here's one way of accomplishing the type of layout I'm talking about.
You can play around a lot with groupings and an asymmetrical / symmetrical look. Here's a quick second take with a different result.
And one more off the deep end just to prove a point.
The other point is that from a design stand point, I can actually conceive of using this random joint as a design feature. Say I was making a box based on The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, or representing a twisted ideal in some other fashion. This joint would be perfectly at home in those instances. So understand the look you're going for and don't be afraid to make mistakes getting there. After all, those aren't mistakes, they are lessons learned. The most important thing to remember is to relax, do NOT put this joint up on a pedestal, just have fun and go for it.
I'm pretty sure this should wrap up my side of this discussion. Thanks for lending me your ears while I rode the soapbox for a while.