Recent research progress in nanostructured carbon has built upon and yet advanced far from the studies of more conventional carbon forms such as diamond, graphite, and perhaps coals. To some extent, the great attention to nano-carbons has been ignited by the discovery of the structurally least obvious, counterintuitive, small strained fullerene cages. Carbon nanotubes, discovered soon thereafter, and recently, the great interest in graphene, ignited by its extraordinary physics, are all interconnected in a blend of cross-fertilizing fields. Here we review the theoretical and computational models development in our group at Rice University, towards understanding the key structures and behaviors in the immense diversity of carbon allotropes. Our particular emphasis is on the role of certain transcending concepts (like elastic instabilities, dislocations, edges, etc.) which serve so well across the scales and for chemically various compositions.