An FFT-based footprint pattern synthesis from a rectangular planar array of isotropic antennas by modifying the amplitude, phase and the state (‘on’/‘off’) of the array elements using differential evolution algorithm has been presented. Three different footprints of rectangular, square and circular boundaries are generated from the array while maintaining a satisfactory lower peak sidelobe level and ripple. The method greatly reduces the computational time than the conventional method of calculating beam patterns. The dynamic range ratio of the excitation amplitudes are kept below a threshold level to reduce the design complexity of the attenuators at the feed network level and to minimize the effect of mutual coupling among the array elements. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.