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edited October 2011
I've stayed away from using real dirt because when I glue it down it looks like wet earth .So my question is how not to make it look wet on say a dirt floor in a building?
Once the dirt is dry (though looks wet) try dusting on some dry dirt with a brush. Kind of like chalk weathering the dirt.
A 1/2" make-up brush is good for this, though not essential, a small paint brush will work.
This should give you the dry look you seek, chalks can also be used to give tonal variation and show foot traffic, spills and such.
I personally give the chalk method two thumbs up. Have used it a few times and as Karl said, it can really make a difference with the subtle changes in tone.
I've had no trouble with dirt, except for when I didn't wait for it to dry out completely before applying it. Dirt with mosture in it did not look good when applied and took a long time to dry out.
What about adding something to the dirt to lighten it. Years ago George Selios wrote an article about using only the finest texture of dirt and mixing it about 50-50 with Durham's Water Putty. I'm sure this method is dated, but I remember using it with good results.
edited November 2011
This older method may lighten a darker dirt colour but it would still be uniform in appearance.
The chalks enable you to create variations in colour, give a dry, dusty appearance and a much more realistic effect.
I mix several shades of dirt together to get my "base" layer... chalk is great once the scenery is complete (and dry) to blend, highlight a pathway, add smudges and stains... I blot it on with a soft brush - you can control it so well.